Changing Their Tuna
Ecuador unveiled a plan yesterday that could help protect marine and bird species native to the Galapagos Islands, whose unique wildlife inspired Charles Darwin to formulate his theory of natural selection. At present, Galapagos fishers are legally allowed to ply their trade in the waters around the archipelago, to the dismay of conservationists. Now the government plans to pilot a program that would encourage anglers to accept a voluntary two-mile, no-fishing zone around the islands, which lie about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. In exchange, the government would offer to help the 400 licensed local fishing boats sell their catches from the outer reaches of the Galapagos marine reserve to industrial tuna fleets. Tuna is the country’s fifth-biggest export, and industrial fishers have long clamored for fishing rights in the reserve. Environmentalists have said that letting in the fleets would be a disaster for marine and bird life. The government said its compromise plan would placate the industry, help local fishers, and protect the ecology of the Galapagos.