Notes from the Field: The Galapagos, January 2020

February 27, 2020; By Molly Shane, Marine Program Coordinator

The WildAid Marine team kicked off the new year with a two-week strategic planning visit with our partners in the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador. WildAid Marine has worked with the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) for nearly 20 years to strengthen marine surveillance and enforcement in the region and guarantee the protection of the countless endangered species that call the islands home, including hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, and manta rays.

Over the years, WildAid Marine has provided support for the GNPS in a variety of ways, from delivering ranger training programs to sourcing new surveillance equipment to supporting fisheries population monitoring. The WildAid Marine Ecuador team, based in-country, has played an invaluable role in cultivating relationships with key stakeholders and building trust with government officials. WildAid Marine and the GNPS have developed a strong working relationship and the Park has become an exemplary, regional leader in marine protection.

Building on the past two decades of collaboration, we are excited to embark on the next phase of our partnership: the development of a 5 to 10-year strategic plan for the Galapagos National Park. Thanks to our proven history of successful collaboration, the Park invited WildAid Marine to participate as a key partner in the strategic planning process.

Our most recent visit to the Galapagos in January 2020 served as a kick-off for the strategic planning process with the Park. While in-country, our team met with Department Heads from Legal, Ecosystems, Environmental Education & Social Participation, Finance, and Maintenance, among other key areas to review the Park’s current planning processes and ensure a comprehensive strategic plan that is congruent with our Marine Protection System model. We also surveyed the existing fleet of oceanic patrol vessels utilized by the Park to enforce the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Taking stock of existing management strategies, resources, and capacity will enable us to better assist the Park in crafting relevant, effective techniques for future enforcement efforts.

As a next step, we will work with the Park to develop a draft strategic plan. Throughout this process, we will continue to advise on best practices related to monitoring, control, and surveillance within the Park. Finally, we will support efforts to identify and plan for the appropriate allocation of resources to ensure the sustainability of Park operations over the long-term. We are grateful for the opportunity to advise and support on the new strategic plan and remain deeply committed to supporting the Galapagos National Park in their efforts to protect their one-of-a-kind ecosystem.