President Guillermo Lasso, Colombian President Iván Duque and former U.S. President Bill Clinton will officially open the expanded Galapagos marine reserve today in Puerto Ayora. The three presidents, as well as the foreign ministers from Costa Rica and Panama, will be onboard the Sierra Negra yacht off Santa Cruz Island.
The expansion of the marine reserve not only extends the boundaries of the current protected waters but stretches to the South and Central America coast to include the Cocos Islands in Costa Rica, Malpelo Island, Colombia and Coiba, Panama.
“With this extension, this preserve that protects Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands becomes the largest protected marine area in the Western Hemisphere,” Lasso said before leaving Quito on Thursday. “This expansion is an international initiative involving the governments of Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica, as well as partners in non-government environmental organizations.”
According to supporters, the expansion of the reserve will push back the limit that international fishing fleets must observe near the Galapagos Islands. In recent years, a Chinese fleet numbering as many 300 fishing vessels, has anchored just outside the old boundary. China has privately complained about the expansion of the reserve, as has the Ecuadorian tuna fleet.