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April 23, 2018
So far this year, approximately 22 tons of plastic trash have been collected in surface and submarine cleanups along the coasts of San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Floreana, and Santiago Islands in Galapagos. The pollution caused by this type of waste is not only visual but is also of serious environmental impact, affecting the wildlife species that inhabit the Archipelago.
Research studies have identified several types of microplastics inside animals or in their feces: birds like finches and marine animals like sea turtles confuse plastics with food, ingesting them. Over time, this can lead to the death of these species. At least 18 species have been recorded in the Archipelago as either being entangled by, or ingesting, plastic to date as well.
The transfer of marine garbage in the water currents and human behavior are considered the two most significant contributing factors to the plastic pollution problem in Galapagos. In light of this, Minister of the Governing Council of Galapagos Lorena Tapia has expressed her wish to implement regulations to restrict the consumption of single-use plastics in the insular region, and on Sunday, April 22, as part of the commemoration of Earth Day, the highest provincial authority announced Resolution No. 05-CGREG-2015 that restricts the use of certain plastics — including plastic straws, single-use plastic bags (t-shirt type), polythene containers (such as those used for takeout), and plastic bottles.
Restrictions on each type of plastic will be implemented over the next four months, beginning with plastic straws in May. The Galapagos Governing Council will work with the Galapagos National Park Directorate, Ecuadorian Government Ministries, NGOs, scientists, local agencies and the local community to ensure that the plan is effectively implemented across the inhabited islands. Evaluation will be carried out following all four phases to assess the results.
Galapagos Conservancy commends the Governing Council for this important measure for the long-term protection of Galapagos wildlife!