|Wednesday, September 22, 2004|
Chaos in the Galapagos Continues
The standoff between the Park Rangers of the Galapagos Park and the Ecuadorian government continues
The Ecuadorian press reported late yesterday that forty to fifty fishermen attacked a group of Park Rangers who were occupying the office of the National Park in Puerto Ayora.
One of the Park Rangers told the press that the fishermen, headed by the newly appointed Park Director, Fausto Cepeda, approached the Park offices. The Rangers did not allow them to enter.
The fishermen then attacked the Rangers with stones and sticks. Some of the Rangers suffered wounds. There were thirty policemen stationed at the Park to keep the peace, and they responded with tear gas against the fishermen. The Rangers said, "We are peaceful and that is how we will continue." They said that the care and feeding of animals at the park is going on as usual.
The standoff continued today.
Earlier today, Fausto Cepeda, the newly appointed Park Director, was escorted into the Park buildings, where he currently remains. Cepeda is the eighth appointment in twenty months as Park Director.
Eight representatives for the Park Rangers traveled to Quito today to speak to the Minister of the Environment. The conclusion of that discussion is not yet known.
The situation in the Galapagos is quite unstable. The failure of the central Ecuadorian government to implement and carry out a clear management plan to move forward has been detrimental to the Galapagos. There is no scientific basis for the current policies and actions. To date, the decisions made have shown little analysis for the sound management of the fisheries and the Park program.
President Gutierrez is exhibiting extremely poor management practices in the Galapagos. He is doing a disservice to his own people as well - as chaos develops and continues, the people, as well as the Galapagos Island animals and environment, will suffer.
The state must form a clear, political-free conservation plan to maintain the Galapagos. Any policies enacted must be based on conservation. Because the central government agreed to the establishment of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites they must take responsibility to care for them.
World pressure must continue to mount in order to make the Ecuadorian government realize that the Galapagos Islands' natural heritage and economy will be destroyed if they continue to let the situation deteriorate as they have been. Their shortsighted and inadvisable policies are ruining the Galapagos.
There is also chaos in the Galapagos as two fishery seasons collide. Because of a long court battle, the sea cucumber season is beginning soon, just in time to coincide with the lobster season.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose research and conservation vessel, the Sirenian, is on loan to the Ecuadorian government, has been assisting in the protection of the Galapagos Marine Reserve for the past four years.
Sea Shepherd continues to encourage everyone to contact the officials responsible for the care of the Galapagos and voice your concerns. Please see the Galapagos posting dated 9/21/04(http://www.seashepherd.org/news/news_040917_1.html) for more contact information of Ecuadorian government officials. Below is the contact information for those Ecuadorian official representatives to the United States:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Dr. Nina Pacari Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador Carrión 10-40 y Av.10 de Agosto Quito-Ecuador Tel.(593 2) 2561 215 Website: www.mmrree.gov.ec