Galapagos Oil Spill Prevention Program
Since the early 1970s, the principal economic activity in the Galapagos has been tourism. Back then, local fishermen would take visitors around in their fishing boats. Today, the number of visitors has increased to over 200,000 annually. As tourism and the local population grows in the Galapagos, so does the number of boats and the risk of potential oil spill. Limited resources within the Galapagos park management further increase this risk. The priority of this problem came to light in 2001 when the tanker “Jessica” released over 200,000 gallons of diesel and bunker fuel into the waters of the Galapagos. Through assessments performed by the US Military Group and the Ecuadorian Navy (Coast Guard) in 2002 and 2009 it was recommended that an oil spill prevention and contingency response control unit be based on Baltra island, centrally located within the reserve.
In 2012, Planeterra worked with WildAid in the Galapagos to develop an oil spill prevention and contingency response unit with the goal of preventing minor and major oil spills from contaminating the fragile ecosystem of the Galapagos islands. This program includes an inspection station to help prevent future disasters. Inspections for small and big boats are performed on board since it is important to witness the performance of wastewater plants, bilges and sludge management. Samples are taken on board and transferred to the laboratory for analysis.
Planeterra’s partnership with WildAid works as a preventative measure to protect the fragile ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands. Through vigilant monitoring efforts it is hoped that future oil spills can be avoided, protecting the marine life and the livelihoods of fishermen and travel professionals alike.
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