The Galapagos Islands are iconic for biologists and lovers of nature, home to a dizzying array of rare and endangered species that inspired Charles Darwin's seminal work on evolution. Today, the entire marine ecosystem surrounding the islands is at risk. The powerful commercial fishing lobbies that hold sway with the government are asking for license to longline fish throughout the Galapagos Marine Reserve, an internationally protected area since 1986. They say it will be controlled and 'ecologically sound', but in a country consistently rated one of the most corrupt in the world, there is reason for doubt! Longline fishing involves laying lines that are many miles long, strung with hundreds of thousands of baited hooks. In some cases up to 80 percent of the resulting catch consists of dolphins, sea turtles, sea birds, sea lions, and other marine animals. This is the same wildlife that brings to the Galapagos its most sustainable and supporting industry: tourism.
Recently, Ecuador's Minister of Environment, Fabián Valdiviezo, supported a proposal created by the fishing sector to allow longlining in the Pacific - including the Galapagos. This would undermine the participatory management system that is currently established under the Special Law of the Galapagos Islands and also disregard the urging of over 600 scientists worldwide to ban longline fishing in the Pacific.
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