Thursday, July 16, 2009

Galapagos Islands: hi-tech GPS comes to the aid of marine park management

The Galapagos Islands - an oceanic oasis that was one of Darwin's key research sites for his seminal work on evolution - is feeling the pressure of its unique status. With increased tourism and island population, combined with international demands for seafood, the Galapagos has been showing signs of this negative impact on its natural resources.

The Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) was created in 1998 to provide protection to the islands' surrounding waters. And in the next few months, through the support of Conservation International and WildAid, the GMR will be taking a hi-tech step forward in managing major ship traffic in the area.

Utilizing GPS satellite tracking equipment, the activities of ships greater than 20 metric tons will be monitored by the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS). This will provide the GNPS with greater ability to manage and regulate ships in no-take zones, tourism itineraries, and commercial shipping. Besides "tagging" ships, the computer-based system will enable the GNPS to tag and track migratory species and monitor environmental/climate changes.

Hats off to Conservation International and WildAid for supporting this important example of cost-effective marine research and management.

No comments: