Coastal Ecuador

The Project

Home to the Largest Remaining Population of Oceanic Mantas


The eastern shores of Ecuador’s Pacific coast harbor five species of sea turtles, 20 species of whales and dolphins, hammerhead and whale sharks, and the largest remaining population of oceanic manta rays in the world.


87,000 artisanal fishers and their families live in coastal communities in Ecuador and depend on commercially valuable fish species for food and livelihoods. These fish are becoming scarce due to threats from illegal fishing and degradation of coastal habitats.


In 2015, WildAid Marine began working in five marine protected areas (MPAs) in Coastal Ecuador. We are currently working with the Ecuadorian government to strengthen enforcement at all 19 coastal MPAs, as well as three fishing cooperatives managing mangrove concessions to protect vital blue carbon spaces in the nation.

Coastal Ecuador: The Challenge

When we began our work in Coastal Ecuador, rangers lacked the training and equipment necessary to patrol their waters. Patrols were sporadic or nonexistent, and illegal fishing was rampant.

Our Impact

Putting Our Model Into Action

We helped our partners reach the Implementation stage and develop comprehensive Marine Protection System Plans for coastal MPAs and mangrove concessions.

Surveillance and Enforcement_icon2

We helped establish patrolling strategies for each site and acquired patrol equipment and uniforms for rangers, including patrol vessels, a radar, HD surveillance cameras, radio communication equipment, and satellite vessel monitoring software.

Training and Mentorship_icon2

We conducted annual trainings for all enforcement officers and community rangers, including dedicated peer-to-peer exchanges and regional workshops.

Consistent Funding_icon2

We helped secure a partnership with CI-GEF to support enforcement operations across the entire coast.

Community Engagement_icon2

We partnered with community NGOs to support sea turtle conservation efforts along the coast. As a result, the first leatherback sea turtle nest hatched in over 40 years in 2021. WildAid was instrumental in forming a country-wide strategy for sea turtle conservation and helped our partners establish community workshops and programs to improve understanding of the importance of marine conservation and fisheries regulations.

Policies and Consequences_icon2

We helped foster a historic agreement between the Ecuadorian Navy and three coastal MPAs to conduct joint patrols and deter illegal fishing.

Photo by Laura Wais

sea turtle hatchlings protected in four years, including the first leatherback sea turtle nest in over 40 years.

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park rangers from 5 coastal MPAs were trained in the operation of drones for control and monitoring of mangroves. Training included use of technologies, drone regulations, assembly and configuration of equipment, use of pilot applications and controls, flight plans, surveillance strategies, and registration of flight data.


illegal fishing violations in Machalilla as a result of the joint patrols between park rangers and Ecuadorian Navy. This success led to similar agreements at Santa Clara, Santa Elena, and Pacoche MPAs in 2021, strengthening protection of sea turtles, sharks, and giant mantas.

Our Partners