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Galapagos May 2007 Report

By doina — last modified Oct 24, 2007 01:49 PM

Published: 2007-10-24 13:49:21
Countries: Galapagos

Since we have just visited the magnificent Galapagos thought that an update might be beneficial for all interested boats planning to travel there since the situation has changed dramatically in recent weeks. UNESCO has issued a Letter of Concern, threatening the Ecuadorian Government to reduce its support and even taking the Galapagos from the list of World Heritage Sites if their economic exploitation is not kept under tighter control. Rather than the 120.000 visitors per year - which already is far more than one would think ideal for the Island's wildlife - 2006 saw in excess of 160.000 visitors and 2007 is apparently recording an even larger increase. When we left Santa Cruz this morning 26 ships (not including fishing boats and tenders!) were at anchor and the quality of the water is very bad; diesel traces and lots of garbage outside the National Park!

The Galapagos are "governed" by the Armada del Ecuador (the Army which has been at this outpost ever since the Americans left Baltra) and the Administration of the National Park of the Galapagos. In recent months however, these two bodies have no longer worked together and the Government has, in April 2007, declared the Islands in a State of Emergency.

Santa Cruz has grown to a small city of more than 20.000 inhabitants and tourism has become highly attractive. The good news is, that provisioning, diesel, spare parts, shipping, etc. have improved significantly. The sad side, however, is that quite a few unserious businessman offer their services to the sailing community at outrageous prices!

Sailors will, in the future, be allowed to visit the Galapagos. But restrictions, especially as far as the number of visiting boats is concerned, will be increased dramatically. Although not regulated as yet, black water holding tanks might be required, sanitary inspections be significantly tougher and bureaucracy even worse!

Georg v. Griesheim, S/Y Legaris

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