Three Nations Create Giant Reserves for Ocean Life

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Concern over a worldwide decline in marine life prompted the presidents of Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica to announce agreements to increase protection of some of the most biodiverse ocean waters.

The agreements bring the marine reserves off the three nations to 83,600 square miles. Ecuador and Costa Rica also agreed to delineate the boundaries of their national waters, exchanging nautical charts in a step toward protecting the underwater “highways” used by sharks, sea turtles, and other migrating marine life.

“These three countries share marine resources and thus have responsibility for managing them sustainably…We have the unique and urgent opportunity to allow future generations to enjoy an ocean as rich as the Pacific,” said Ecuador President Rafael Correa as he and the two other presidents gathered in the Galápagos, which inspired Charles Darwin’s revolutionary ideas about biology and evolution.

The actions expand protections in three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Cocos, Malpelo, and Galápagos.

These announcements add to a series of recent actions designed to safeguard whales, sharks, sea turtles, tuna, and other creatures off the coasts of Central and South America. A new marine sanctuary created in March around Wolf and Darwin islands protects roughly one-third of the waters of the Galápagos from fishing and other extractive industries. Scientific studies conducted last year found that these waters host the world’s highest known abundance of sharks, from migratory hammerheads to reef sharks.

read more: news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/new-marine-highways-announced/
article: Jane Braxton Little
photo: David Doubilet, National Geographic Creative

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