Together with the Galapagos National Park Service and other partners, we are making the Galapagos Marine Reserve the best-protected MPA in the developing world. WildAid is currently integrating electronic surveillance technology to monitor the new no-take zones in the reserve, delivering annual refresher training for park rangers and streamlining the patrol fleet. Recent successes include: a high-profile arrest in April. Using technology provided by WildAid, park rangers seized seven illegal fishing vessels and arrested 21 fishers in April 2016 with 81 shark carcasses in their hold. WildAid successfully worked with the government to enact stronger regulations to combat illegal fishing throughout Ecuador. We also developed a legal database for Galapagos park lawyers, and helped resolve a backlog of 203 environmental cases.
Invasive species can be disastrous to the biodiversity and conservation of the Galapagos Islands. WildAid provides on-going technical support to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency to prevent the introduction of invasive species and enact effective quarantine measures once identified. Our activities address all components of the biosecurity chain and recent successes include: creating a canine unit to identify and prevent prohibited products from entering the islands, setting up rapid diagnosis labs to identify high-risk invasive species and launching a four-month celebrity-led awareness campaign to prevent the introduction of invasive species that reached five million people across Ecuador.
WildAid designed a national MPA enforcement strategy for coastal Ecuador and is currently working in six different MPAs to strengthen management and protect endangered species. With our help in improving patrolling strategies and with the provision of equipment, park rangers reported a 250% increase in patrolling hours and 100+ citations. We collaborated with the Machalilla wildlife hospital to rescue 36 sea turtles that were successfully released last year and helped artisanal dive fishers promote sustainable extraction and community-led enforcement. We assisted in sea turtle conservation initiatives by setting up a nest monitoring program and community education to help more than 25,000 endangered sea turtle hatchlings reach the ocean. Park rangers in Machalilla National Park rescued five humpback whales from fishing nets and protected mantas with the installation of an HD camera and AIS at Isla de la Plata. Other activities include systematic ranger trainings, expanded communications networks, investments in surveillance and interception equipment.
Together with ProNatura Noroeste, Niparajá and the Mexican Fund for Conservation, we carried out a binational capacity-building initiative to improve MPA enforcement in both the Galapagos and Baja California by conducting two peer to peer exchanges in both Ecuador and Mexico. We have begun setting up a pilot project in the Midriff Islands protected area in Baja California, nicknamed “the Galapagos of the Northwest,” with the acquisition of a patrol vessel and installation of a surveillance camera using lessons learned from peer exchanges. Recently, WildAid partnered with Monitoreo Vaquita to train Mexican fishermen to find and rescue the vaquita and spread awareness about its plight.
WildAid designed an MPA enforcement strategy for the island of Barbuda. The three-year plan includes strategic coverage of key fishing areas, sanctuaries, and access ways through the use of vigilance posts, a robust VHF marine radio network, and the strategic placement of buoys and patrol vessels.
WildAid also developed a capacity-building and training plan for fisheries officers to enforce new fishery regulations. In 2015, WildAid hosted a comprehensive training course for Barbuda's officers to better enforce regulations, learn best practices in evidence collection and practice safety at sea.
In cooperation with Global Parks, WildAid developed an enforcement plan for Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) in Cuba to strengthen management and enforcement of the protected area from illegal fishing and destruction of marine habitat.
The Republic of Palau made history in 2015 when they declared 80% of their national waters a marine reserve. Together with TNC and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, we designed a practical, affordable, and feasible enforcement system for the Northern Reefs to be implemented over a four-year timeframe. In 2016, and together with TNC, we installed we installed a surveillance camera at Ngederrak Marine Conservation Area, which provides important feeding grounds for highly-threatened dugongs, to detect and prevent illegal fishing we also trained park rangers in Palau to strengthen enforcement efforts in the Northern Reefs.
WildAid designed an enforcement plan for Southeast Misool, located in the biodiverse Coral Triangle, and supports Misool Foundation, our local enforcement partner in its operations. Patrols of no-take zones have continually improved to ensure compliance of local regulations. Outreach to local communities has been critical in raising awareness and changing practices to better manage marine resources. The efforts of Misool, together with other conservation initiatives in the region have already succeeded in doubling fish biomass in the protected area over a five-year period. Work in Lamakera village has resulted in an 80% decrease in manta fishing from 2015 and 250 manta fishermen were engaged in alternative livelihoods.
In cooperation with the US State Department and Sabah Parks, we carried out an initial assessment of the Tun Mustapha Marine Park – Malaysia’s newest and largest marine park of 1,000,000 sq. ha.