Delivery of New Patrol Boat Increases Protection of Mangroves and Coastal Habitat in Ecuador

June 2, 2022; By Carolyn Sotka, Marine Grants Officer

Thanks to the generous support of the Marshall Foundation and a WildAid gofundme campaign, a new patrol boat was delivered to our team based in coastal Ecuador. The Berge Chimborazo will be used to support community-led initiatives in collaboration with WildAid Marine, to improve enforcement of marine protected areas (MPAs) and mangrove forests in Ecuador.

Along the Pacific coast of Central and Northern South America, mangrove forests grow in tropical intertidal zones or estuaries – where seawater meets freshwater and land meets the ocean. The root system of these tropical ‘twisted trees’ create a labyrinth that serves as a nursery for reef fishes and sharks. These and other megafauna begin their early life here protected from predators and where they rely on vital mangroves to live, feed and breed.

Protecting threatened species that are dependent on threatened habitats is a priority conservation area for WildAid Marine. Photo credit: Nick Leonard

Mangroves are among the world’s most diverse and productive ecosystems and not only provide habitat for wildlife but also prevent coastal erosion, filter land-based pollution, and provide a buffer against storm surges. In addition to the importance of these ecosystems for coastal livelihoods – mangroves absorb approximately 400% more carbon than their terrestrial counterparts, making them especially important in tackling climate change. Thus, protecting existing mangroves and rebuilding ones that have been lost is critical.

To watch a video of the Berge Chimborazo dedication click here.

Since 2015, WildAid Marine has worked in coastal Ecuador with the Ecuadorian government and Conservation International–Global Environment Facility (GEF) to strengthen enforcement on a national level, benefitting 19 coastal MPAs. Ecuador’s coast is home to 87,000 artisanal fishers and their families that depend on commercially valuable fish species for food and livelihoods. These fish and other marine wildlife are becoming scarce due to threats from illegal fishing and the degradation of coastal habitats, including mangroves.

The Berge Chimborazo was christened during a dedication ceremony where an ‘Inter-institutional Cooperation Agreement for the Protection of Mangroves and Improvement of Security’ was signed between WildAid and community groups Nuevo Porvenir Artisanal Fisheries Production Cooperative and the 6 de Julio Crabbers Association. This agreement formally stipulated the commitments and contributions of each organization for the success of mangrove protection.

The Latin America and Ecuador WildAid Marine team and coastal Ecuador MPA rangers.

The 6 de Julio and Nuevo Porvenir Associations have effectively managed and protected their red crab-catching areas for more than 20 years. However, this is the first time they will work together to improve security, surveillance and management of these important habitats. Representatives from the adjacent Churute Manglares Ecological Reserve and the Autonomous Decentralized Government of the Naranjal Canton also participated. This agreement will improve broader cooperation in the region.

Red crab is an important fishery in coastal Ecuador.

The new Berge Chimborazo will help expand patrol operations and reinforce a consistent enforcement presence to deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and other destructive activities.

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Cover photo credit: Shutterstock