U.N. Endangered List: Galapagos Off, Everglades On
What a difference a vote makes.
In a tally by the U.N. World Heritage committee meeting in Brasilia last week the Galapagos Islands were taken off the list of World Heritage sites formally considered “in danger.”
The 19-island chain off the coast of Ecuador was added to the list in 2007, thanks to rapid increases in overfishing, most egregiously sea cucumber poaching and shark finning. While the islands are well protected from the heavy impact of tourist’s feet – 97 percent of the islands are off limits to the tourist industry, which has boomed in recent years – the seas that surround them had been less well protected.
The problem stemmed from horrific poverty on the mainland; tens of thousands of impoverished Ecuadoreans dreamed of moving to the islands to cash in on the tourism boom. About 30,000 did. When they arrived and found no pot of gold at the end of the tourist rainbow, many turned to illegal fishing.
After the president of Ecuador announced the island state at “great risk,” the Galapagos were added to the endangered list. After just two years, a vote of 14-5 took it off. Brazil, at the request of Ecuador, had asked that the Galapagos be taken off the list. Apparently the bad publicity of being ranked “endangered” (thus mismanaged) outweighed the need to use the listing to keep world attention focused on the problems.
(For the rest of my dispatch, go to takepart.com)