Travel sites in the Galapagos Islands and several Central and South American countries will expand significantly in 2022 following this past week’s creation of “Hermandad,” a 45 percent expansion of the Galapagos archipelago’s protected Marine Reserve by 74,517 square miles from the previous 51,351 square miles.
Ecuador president Guillermo Lasso signed a decree with representatives of Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama on January 14, establishing the expanded Marine Reserve, which extends northeast from the Galapagos through the three countries, forming an “ocean highway.”
“Today we’re declaring a marine reserve with an area of 60,000 square kilometers, equivalent to an area three times the size of Belize,” said Lasso in international press reports. In a statement announcing the launch of the new reserve, Lasso said the territory will be divided in two equal areas, one in which commercial fishing will be banned, and another where fishing without “long lines” will be permitted.
Lasso said Ecuador will seek to create a trust to finance the preservation of Hermandad areas and invest in new preservation infrastructure and technology for the islands.
The Hermandad corridor extends through Costa Rica’s Cocos Islands, mirroring a migratory route for millions of sea turtles, whales, sharks and rays, said Ecuador government officials. The expanded region is approximately two-and-half times the size of the state of Maryland.
The new route connects two marine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Galapagos and Cocos Islands. Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica last year agreed to work together to create an Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor between their countries.
The expanded protected area will provide numerous new opportunities for snorkeling or SCUBA diving excursion and coastal exploration via kayak, stand-up-paddle boards and glass-bottom boats.