On the road towards stability within the ranks of the Galapagos National Park

History has been made by the designation of Biologist Raquel Molina as the first woman to head the Galapagos National Park (GNP). On Thursday, April 4 at 1530 hours, Ecuador's Environmental Minister, Ana Alban, was present to inaugurate the biologist as the new Director. The process of selection began in March. Raquel Molina was selected by a committee to ensure transparency and was designated with the assistance of USAID and IBD.* The selection was based on technical and managerial expertise which resulted in Raquel Molina edging out Edgar Munoz by less then a point (0.86).

Raquel Molina becomes the 13th Director of the GNP in just two years in what were perhaps the most unstable years for the GNP. She has a daunting task ahead of her as she embarks on leading the park rangers forward during a time in which the National Park has grown weak as an institution. Biologist Molina is a resident of the Island of Santa Cruz and has studied biology from the University of Guayaquil, Environmental Management from Ecuador`s Politecnica University, and Coastal Ecosystem Management in Mexico. She has worked for over 15 years for Ecuadorian grassroots environmental organizations such as Fundacion Natura, Probosque, and Jambeli. Seven months ago, she coordinated the Inter-Institutional Committee for the Management of Introduced Species (CIMEI) on the Island of Santa Cruz in Galapagos.

Sea Shepherd was present at the inauguration of Raquel Molina and has made initial discussions for joint efforts between Sea Shepherd Galapagos and the Galapagos National Park. It is our position to support the new director and the Galapagos National Park in order to continue our joint efforts to protect the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve. Our commitment and investment within the Galapagos Islands continues to grow as we have recently hired a full-time Director of Operations for the Galapagos Islands and we are on the verge of opening our new office located adjacent to the Galapagos National Park headquarters. The Sea Shepherd-donated patrol vessel, Sirenian, is currently in drydock and is being retrofitted in an effort to continue its service for at least another 10 years patrolling the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

Sean O'Hearn, who originally initiated the Sea Shepherd program in the Galapagos, is now the full-time Director of Operations for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the Galapagos.

Since he first arrived in the Galapagos in December 2000, Sean has married a woman from the Galapagos and has become more dedicated than ever before to preserving the unique marine eco-system surrounding the enchanted islands. Sea Shepherd is proud to have Sean O'Hearn representing the Society in the Galapagos, and we are confident that with Sean at the helm, our working relationship with the Galapagos National Park will continue to be productive in protecting the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

*USAID is the US Agency for International Development, one of the biggest organizations (a U.S. agency) that pump money into Galapagos and especially directly into the national park. www.usaid.gov for more info.

IBD is In Espanol - International Bank for Development and is also known as the World Bank. They also invest a lot of money into Galapagos. www.worldbank.org for more info.

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