Earlier this month, Ecuadorian environmental officials intercepted four Peruvian vessels caught illegally fishing three miles outside the Santa Clara Island marine protected area, located just off the mainland coast.
Declared a formal reserve in 1999, Santa Clara Island is the largest refuge for seabirds in continental Ecuador, home to thousands of pelicans, blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds and an array of marine life.
During a regular patrol, Ecuadorian marine enforcement officials spotted the four Peruvian vessels, which were engaged in long-line fishing. Every year, this unsustainable fishing practice kills hundreds of thousands of endangered sharks, mantas, sea turtles and seabirds — all victims of bycatch. When none of the vessels was unable to produce a valid fishing permit, officials confiscated their catch — including sea bass and chub mackerel, both important exports for Ecuador. The crew likely will face additional fines.
Good news for the Galapagos Islands and for shark conservation! Today, the Ecuadorian government announced the creation of a new 15,000-square-mile marine sanctuary — an expansion of the “no-take” zone of the Galapagos Marine Reserve — around the small islands of Darwin and Wolf.
The new no-take zone, roughly the size of Belgium, will now be protected from fishing and other activities. Small-scale fishing cooperatives who support the new initiative had previously been allowed to operate in the area, but increased pressure from industrial trawlers and illegal shark fin hunters have necessitated increased protections.
Legendary diver and explorer Jacques Cousteau once described Mexico’s Sea of Cortez (or the Gulf of California) as "the aquarium of the world," home to a tremendous array of marine life. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than the Midriff Islands, an uninhabited archipelago located in the Sea of Cortez’s central region that has a nickname of its own: "the Galapagos of the Northern Hemisphere.” Whales, whale sharks, sea lions, jumping mobula rays and five species of endangered sea turtles can all be found in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sadly, the Midriff Islands’ abundant reefs and thriving marine habitat attract illegal and unsustainable fishing practices, which threaten their continued protection.
This month, WildAid rolls out its first ever large scale public awareness campaign in Hong Kong on a fleet of about 80 double decker buses. The faces of Chinese celebrities Yao Ming, Li Bingbing, Lang Lang as well as Thai actor Tony Jaa can currently be seen carrying the ‘Ivory Free’ message to the Hong Kong public. The Kowloon Motor Bus Company buses also urge support for an ivory ban proposed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
Last month, hundreds of female sea turtles left the safety of the sea to lay thousands of eggs along Ecuador's coast. Park rangers in the Pacoche marine protected area (MPA) have begun patrolling miles of beaches to identify, protect and tag nests with educational materials to prevent predation.