Site: Galapagos Islands
What is your personal relation to the marine WHS you represent?
Since I was little I was raised in the Islands and learned everyday about the importance of living in a place with so many unique characteristics. Then in the university I studied Ecotourism, now my personal relation to the Marine Reserve remains in the fact that the main objective of my career is to practice low-scale tourism but also with low-impact, ecotourism is based in the concept of sustainable development. We cannot deny that the main economic activity in the Galapagos Islands is tourism and that is why it is important to be responsible for the activities we do in our Marine Reserve. Nowadays it is challenge to implement ecotourism when at the beginning tourism in the Islands didn’t started like that. Also as part of my personal relation to the Marine Reserve I aim to help through my thesis to help improving the Management Visitor System of the Islands, which if it works as a “system” it will help to reduce some of the pressure on ecosystems.
What are the specific problems and threats of your marine WHS?
Illegal fishing: there are boats from the Ecuadorian costs and from other countries that fish inside the GMR, they have been caught with shark fins, sea cucumber (out of season), lobsters (out of season). Irregular touristic activities: some of the daily tours port to port are not legal and sometimes they visit places of the ports that they are not allowed to visit and do activities that they are not allowed to do. Moreover, they usually go with an illegal touristic guide, which also reduces the quality of the visit because sometimes they don’t give the appropriate information. Overfishing: the population of species such as sea cucumber and lobsters has been reduced because of overfishing.
Why do you think is it important to safeguard your marine WHS?
It is an unique environment, the conditions such as location, marine currents, weather, etc., have determined the variety of endemic and native species we have. It’s a place where you can see and understand evolution processes. Many endemic and native species such as flightless cormorants, sea lions, penguins depend of marine ecosystems to survive; some of them rest in land but eat in the ocean. The economy of the Islands depends on the Marine Reserve which is why it is so important to procure an adequate use of natural resources.