Two legislative committees speak out against the expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve
November 14, 2020 – 06h00
Through a statement, national and international environmental organizations make an “urgent” call to consolidate the expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Archive
Quito – The Food Sovereignty Commission and the Sovereignty, International Relations and Security Commission of the National Assembly spoke out against a possible expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve to more than 40 nautical miles in the last two months, after the plenary condemned fishing and illegal fishing near the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Islands in August.
The first document is a resolution of four articles approved on October 7 by ten assembly members of the Food Sovereignty Commission, in which they decided to “support the Ecuadorian fishing sector that is concerned about the possible expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve; as per the studies carried out by the National Chamber of Fisheries, the sector would be affected by the decrease in captures of species and a consequent reduction in economic income and provision of raw material for the production of fishery products for consumption in the local and international market. “
In addition, they ask the Environmental Authority to certify if there is a technical-scientific study that supports the possible expansion and recommend maintaining the integrity of the Galapagos Marine Reserve within the forty nautical mile strip measured from the baselines of the Archipelago and inland waters, until the study is submitted. It also requires the governing bodies of fishing and the environment to guarantee research, maritime control and regulation of national fishing activity.
This Commission received yesterday Eliecer Cruz, spokesperson for Más Galápagos, a citizen initiative for the protection and conservation of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
Cruz asked to be granted the same time that was granted to the fishing sector in the September appearances (before the approval of the resolution in question). However, the president of the committee, Assemblyman Lenín Plaza (AP), pointed out that all appearances have the same time, usually five minutes, in this case ten, and suggested to the appearing party to take advantage of the time.
Cruz pointed out that the proposal to expand the Reserve does not harm the fishing sector, that there are studies of all kinds that support the expansion, that when the Reserve was created in 1998, it was said that the fishing sector would be destroyed, but 22 years later, you can see an increase in vessels and this activity, that there is a high rate of incidental fishing and that the EEZ is protected and conserved to guarantee the national fishery in the long term.
Meanwhile, scientist Alex Hearn pointed out that the productivity of species such as tuna, at the edge of the Reserve, increased by more than 80% and this is due to better protection within the EEZ, managing to protect threatened species and increase the national productivity.
Grace Unda, vice president of the Galápagos Artisanal Fishing Cooperative, insisted on the arguments of the fishing sector against the expansion; she said that fishermen suffer discrimination and that excessive tourism is what harms the Islands, not fishing.
The other document that rests in the Legislative is the report approved by the Commission on Sovereignty, International Relations and Security on November 5. In one of the conclusions, that committee agreed that the expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) to 188 nautical miles could have negative consequences, mainly, in the reduction of fishing areas of the Ecuadorian tuna fleet.
This last report must be presented to the plenary session of the Assembly in the next few days.
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