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Inter-Institutional Tension in the Galapagos Marine Reserve Mounts

Recently, two isolated incidents occurred on the island of Baltra, Galapagos Islands that warrant dissemination to the international community and must be addressed by the President of Ecuador.

On March 14th, the Ecuadorian Navy arrested two Park Wardens in Baltra who were investigating a denouncement made by PetroEcuador. A single hulled tanker was illegally transferring and selling diesel fuel to a foreign yacht in a highly sensitive area.

On March 16th, four Park Wardens including Raquel Molina, Director of the Galapagos National Park Service, were severely beaten on Millionaires` Beach on the island of Baltra by officials of the Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE) when they attempted to confiscate a fishing net and two kayaks from an illegal group of tourists.

The regulatory and legal framework established by the Special Law of Galapagos was clearly violated in these two incidents by the Ecuadorian Armed Forces. The Galapagos National Park Service is the only authority with the mandate to regulate tourism activities and is responsible for the management of the Galapagos Marine Reserve. In both incidents, the GNPS Wardens were prevented from carrying out their duties by the Armed Forces: the first by arrest; and the second, by the use of force.

WildAid vehemently denounces the abuse of power and the use of violence toward the Park Director and the Park Wardens and reiterate our support for the actions taken by the Galapagos National Park Service. We have asked the President of Ecuador to intervene with the highest Authorities of the Armed Forces to ensure a pacific resolution of this unfortunate situation and that the Armed Forces respect the legal framework established for the management of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

The conservation and sustainable development of the Galapagos Archipelago is both an opportunity and a responsibility for everyone. Each individual or institution, within their capacity, is responsible to maintain Galapagos as one of the most important World Heritage Sites that possesses unparalleled ecological diversity and abundance.