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Marine Protection

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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Why is Plastic Pollution a Problem in Our Oceans?

A sea turtle tangled up in various plastics (Machalilla National Park)

A sea turtle spots a plastic bag floating among the waves. To him, it looks like a jellyfish, its general shape and consistency swaying and catching the light in just the right way. He swims toward it and ingests the bag in one gulp, satisfying his hunger, and then goes on his away. In actuality, that plastic bag lines his gut, causing digestive blockages and the sea turtle’s eventual death from starvation.

This story is all too common in the marine environment. In fact, a study estimated that more than half the world’s sea turtles and a staggering 90% of sea birds had ingested some form of plastic. Earlier this year, 13 sperm whales washed up in Germany and their necropsies revealed stomachs full of plastic waste including a 43-foot-long shrimp fishing net, a plastic car engine cover and a plastic bucket. Plastic and other debris, including discarded fishing lines and nets (also called “ghost nets”), are not just ingested, but also account for thousands of casualties.  Sharks, whales and mantas that get tangled up in nets either suffer life-threatening injuries from their attempts to escape or they simply remain trapped eventually drowning to death.

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Protecting Palau’s Marine Environment

WildAid trains Palau state rangers on new regulations and boarding practices

The small island nation of Palau, located in the Western Pacific Ocean between the Philippines and Indonesia has continued its strong support for marine conservation. Last month, two states in the Northern Reefs are ensuring that artisanal fishing is done in a sustainable fashion with a greater degree of enforcement and accountability from its citizens. Previous legislation includes the world’s first shark sanctuary in 2009 and a declaration in 2015 that over 80% of its waters would be protected as a marine sanctuary.

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Machalilla National Park and WildAid Partner to Save Humpback Whales

Humpback whale breaching

The Machalilla National Park park rangers have just completed their fourth year of humpback whale rescues, which are often found entangled in fishing gear. So far, park rangers have saved 13 whales; including four rescues this year alone.

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Casquita’s Journey: Rescuing an Injured Sea Turtle in Ecuador

Machalilla wildlife hospital volunteers oversee the treatment of an injured sea turtle

This week marked the beginning of a fresh start for Casquita, an Olive Ridley sea turtle in Ecuador. Accompanied by children from the local community, Casquita triumphantly made her way back to the sea after recovering from injuries inflicted by a boat propeller and malnutrition.

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Protecting Marine Wildlife in an Ecuadorian Sanctuary

Humpback whale breaching in Santa Elena MPA (Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment).

WildAid is visiting Ecuador’s coastal marine protected areas (MPAs) this week, where we’ve been working for the past year and a half with Conservation International. One of these sites is Santa Elena MPA, the western-most point of Ecuador and home to hundreds of species including humpback whales, sea turtles, sharks, mantas, albatrosses, pelicans and 86 fish species.

We developed an enforcement plan for Santa Elena that focuses on conservation priorities of the area. As per the plan, Santa Elena park wardens carry out both preventive and control measures to protect the reserve’s marine wildlife.

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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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Wildaid's Marine Program Raises $100,000

Thanks to your donations, WildAid can protect more endangered sea turtles in Ecuador.

We are so grateful to everyone who donated for our World Oceans Day challenge! WildAid raised a total of $100,000 to support our marine program in Ecuador and endangered sea turtles thanks to a generous matching gift! All proceeds will support marine protection in Ecuador and its endangered marine species.

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