Ecosystems: Plastic Waste Spoils Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most unspoiled nature in the world. But even here plastic waste is a problem, and biodiversity is under threat. Marine biologists and conservationists are campaigning for the expansion of protected zones. The fauna and flora of the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean is a treasure trove for marine biologists.

They still know very little about many of the fish, rays and sea turtles that can be found here. But these days, their work is focused primarily on conservation, because many of these species are endangered due to threats such as overfishing and boat strikes. Efforts to protect local wildlife include attaching tracking devices to juvenile hammerhead sharks to determine their migration routes, which can then be designated as protected areas.

Other research teams are focused on the problem of plastic waste in the Pacific – identifying where it comes from and exploring its impact on marine life. Meanwhile, local fishermen are under pressure: Large fishing fleets from China and elsewhere ply the waters near the Galapagos Islands, severely depleting fish stocks. As a result, local fishing boats are forced to move into designated conservation zones. If the delicate marine environment surrounding the Galapagos Islands is to survive, fishing needs to become more sustainable.

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