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marine

Adapting C3 Tactics for Marine Conservation

Rangers in Ecuador using new VHF radios during a patrol (Gustavo Crespo).

Communications, command and control (C3) models are used throughout the U.S. armed forces to ensure mission objectives. This assures situational awareness and getting critical information to the right users at the right time. At WildAid, we’ve adapted these principles to the marinescape with the dual goal of protecting precious fisheries and Park Wardens, as exemplified by the following scenario.

A small artisanal boat is moored in a popular local fishing spot in the Santa Elena Wildlife Refuge when two divers emerge with bags full of their catch. Upon inspection, the Santa Elena Rangers find illegally caught sea cucumber mixed with the rest of the catch. Faced with the threat of seizure, the fishers and boat captain become aggressive… Now what?

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What is the key to a successful marine protected area? People and money.

A boat travels inside the Galapagos Marine Reserve (Ralph Lee Hopkins)

Simply designating a marine protected area (MPA) is not enough to protect critical habitat and species. A new study in Nature sought to answer how MPA management impacted fish populations. The results confirm a belief long-held by the marine community: the success of an MPA is directly correlated to effective management and this in turn requires adequate money and staff.

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Protecting Sea Turtles in Nicaragua

Nesting olive-ridley sea turtles

Nicaragua’s stunning beaches are more than tourist attractions. The sandy bluffs along the coral corridor provide a refuge for thousands of nesting hawksbill, olive-ridley, leatherback and green sea turtles. In fact, Nicaragua’s La Flor Wildlife Refuge hosts more than 100,000 olive-ridley nests each year.

WildAid completed an enforcement assessment last year of three marine protected areas (MPAs) in Nicaragua’s coral corridor to address turtle poaching and other threats to the region’s biodiversity.

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Protecting the Galapagos with Angermeyer Cruises

The M/Y WildAid's Passion (Angermeyer Cruises)

WildAid is pleased to announce a new partnership with Angermeyer Cruises/ Andando Tours to protect the Galapagos marine environment, allowing visitors to be part of the solution to the Archipelago’s growing problems. 

WildAid and Angermeyer Cruises/ Andando Tours have teamed up to create the Galapagos Conservation Fund to help stop some of the greatest threats to the Galapagos Islands: illegal fishing and the threat of invasive species. In a bold demonstration of commitment, Angermeyer Cruises has renamed their 173-foot luxury yacht to “WildAid’s Passion for Galapagos” and will make a $100 donation to the fund for every passenger that books a cruise on M/Y WildAid’s Passion. Besides encouraging guests to contribute, Angermeyer Cruises will also donate all proceeds from a one-week charter to the fund annually.

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Mexico and Ecuador Meet to Discuss Marine Enforcement

Mexican officials take Ecuadorian officials on a patrol of Baja California

Known for its stunning seascapes and desert vistas, Baja California’s abundant reefs and thriving marine habitat attract both tourists seeking an escape and illegal fishers profiting off its biodiversity.

Together with partner Pronatura Noreste, WildAid is currently working in the Midriff Islands in the Sea of Cortez, an uninhabited archipelago recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its incredible marine biodiversity, to improve enforcement strategies. The initiative includes developing a comprehensive control and vigilance plan, featuring new surveillance equipment and multi-agency patrols that can be replicated throughout Mexico’s coastal protected areas.

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Ecuadorian Courts Sentence Local Illegal Fisher to 3 Years in Prison

Galapagos National Park rangers sorting through the confiscated sea cucumbers (DPNG).

An Ecuador court sentenced a Galapagos resident to three years in prison, earlier this month, for the illegal trafficking of sea cucumbers.

This particular conviction is a victory for the local community and authorities as it serves as an important deterrent for those considering carrying out illegal fishing and trafficking of protected species. Historically, the legal system tended to be more lenient towards local perpetrators; however, this verdict goes a long way in showing that wildlife laws are applied equally to all, regardless of origin.

After two days of deliberation, the Seventh Tribunal in Guayas unanimously sentenced a Galapagos resident to three years in prison for trafficking 3,712 sea cucumbers (181 lbs). The sea cucumbers were discovered January 2016 during a routine search by Galapagos National Park and National Police officers at the Baltra island airport. The trafficker had attempted to smuggle the sea cucumbers inside three cartons, where fish were used to hide the dried and salted sea cucumbers.

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Saving Injured Sea Turtles in Ecuador

The Machalilla Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital in Ecuador

We’re excited to announce that WildAid has now partnered with the Machalilla wildlife hospital in Ecuador to provide comprehensive protection for sea turtles.

Another Tool in the Fight Against Illegal Fishing

Commercial fishing vessel coming to port.

More than 2.5 billion people—approximately one-third of the global population—depend on fish for food and nutrition. That number is expected to double by 2050.

Unfortunately, 85% of the world’s oceanic fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited, or depleted. Additionally, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) takes as much as 33% of the world’s total legal fish catch, costing us as much as $23 billion annually, which further threatens future productivity of the world’s fishing stocks.

Many countries employ different tools to combat IUU, including setting catch limits and quotas for fisheries, providing bycatch reduction gear, zoning their marine areas, satellite monitoring and enforcement.

Recently, the United Nations made a historic first step in combatting IUU through the ratification of the Port State Measures Agreement. Originally signed in 2009 by the FAO, the Port State Measures Agreement required a minimum of 25 countries to ratify the agreement for it to take effect.

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Can Reefs Survive Coral Bleaching?

Parrotfish in the Gardens of the Queen (Noel Lopez Fernandez)

Scientists in Australia recently announced that more than 90% of coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef have experienced bleaching this year due to increased oceanic temperatures from climate change. This is the third mass bleaching event on record and possibly the worst yet — affecting one-third of the world’s corals. Other affected areas include Micronesia, as well as the Caribbean and Hawaii, both of which suffered major bleaching throughout their waters last summer.

Coral reefs provide food and shelter for numerous marine species and they support fish stocks that feed more than one billion people around the world. According to The New York Times, they provide jobs for “an estimated 30 million small-scale fishermen and women [who] depend on reefs for their livelihoods.”

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Illegal Fishermen Arrested in Galapagos Marine Reserve

Illegal fishing vessel Maria Tatiana IV (GNPS)

Late last week, a commercial fishing vessel and its six fiberglass boats were caught illegally fishing within the Galapagos Marine Reserve with a catch of 160 sharks and other fish.

The Maria Tatiana IV, a fishing vessel from continental Ecuador entered the Galapagos Marine Reserve’s boundaries late Thursday night. Park rangers in the Galapagos National Park control center monitored its trajectory using technology provided by WildAid while patrol vessels sped towards the fishing vessel, having been alerted to this suspicious activity.

After a full day and night chasing the poachers at sea, the Galapagos park rangers and Ecuadorian Navy arrested 21 crew members and seized all seven boats, the long lines and the bounty of illegally caught species. These included 81 sharks—36 silky sharks, 24 blue sharks, 14 pelagic thresher sharks, six bigeye thresher sharks and one great white shark.

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