For Immediate Release, November 1, 2021


Todd Steiner, Executive Director, +1 415-488-7652,

Ecuador Announces Creation of New Marine Reserve in Galapagos

New Protected Area Creates Safe Migration Route for Endangered Marine Species Between Ecuador And Costa Rica

ECUADOR—Ecuador announced the creation of a new marine reserve in Galapagos today, expanding the current protected area by 60,000 square kilometers.

The announcement, made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, will create half of a proposed corridor called for by scientists that could connect protected areas of the Galapagos Marine Reserve with Costa Rica’s Cocos Island, which if completed would create a safe migration route where migratory endangered marine species such as hammerhead and whale sharks, and leatherback and green sea turtles travel.

“Ecuador’s action today to create the Ecuadorian part of the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway is an exciting and major step forward for the protection of critically endangered migratory species such as hammerhead and whale sharks, and leatherback and green sea turtles,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network and founding board member of MigraMar, two of the organizations leading the call for the Swimway. Steiner and Turtle Island has been working for nearly a decade to bring this idea to fruition. “We will continue to provide more scientific justification work to convince Ecuador to expand its size in the future. Now we need Costa Rica to expand a fully protected area from Cocos Island to the Ecuador border to complete the Swimway, and fully protect these magnificent and critically endangered species in the Eastern Pacific.”

Of the new area, 30,000 square kilometers will be located on the Cordillera de Los Cocos where no fishing activity can be carried out. There will be an area of no longline fishing for 30,000 square kilometers northwest of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

This announcement comes on the heels of full-page ads published in the New York Times and El Comercio, which called for action to create the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway by more than 150 organizations and thousands of scientists and members of the public.

“It is now in the hands of the Costa Rican government to match the actions of Ecuador and complete the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway that will protect the ecological and economic integrity of these nations for future generations,” said Mariano Castro, Turtle Island Restoration Network’s Legal & Policy Analyst.

In addition to moving Ecuador towards the 30×30 goal of reaching 30% marine protection by 2030, this announcement will help protect the economy of the region by protecting the marine biodiversity so many visitors travel to the Galapagos and Cocos Island to see. It will also mitigate the impacts of climate change by increasing carbon dioxide capture and will increase the total biomass in the area, benefiting conservation and fishing resources due to spillover effect.

The Galapagos National Park has an area of ​​8,000 square kilometers and is considered by experts as the best conservation state in the world due to 97% of its island territory being a National Park and more than 130,000 square kilometers of its waters being a protected marine reserve. Ninety five percent of the species registered in Galapagos are unique in the world.

Map of the proposed marine reserve.

Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN) is a global nonprofit whose mission is to inspire and mobilize people around the world to protect marine biodiversity and the oceans that sustain all life on Earth.