Years Funded: 2017
MNP in Ecuador has a high concentration of marine birds and migratory species such as whales, dolphins, mantas, sea lions and sea turtles. Approximately 1,000 artisanal fishers from surrounding communities engage in extractive activities within the national park. In the past few years, there has been a marked decrease in the capture of iconic species, such as pink brotula, lobster, sea cucumbers and spondylus (currently the fishing season for the spondylus is closed indefinitely). In addition, the beach at Puerto Lopez Beach has the second highest recorded level of shark and manta ray by-catch in the nation.
MNP possesses a total of 35 park wardens of which six are dedicated to the marine reserve. With respect to patrol assets, there is one 9.5-meter patrol vessel, Bálsamos with a 2-stroke 100 HP Yamaha outboard motor that serves the reserve. The MNP central office is located in Puerto Lopez and there is an additional office located on Isla de la Plata, which is permanently staffed with three park wardens. Isla de la Plata is a principal hub for illegal activity, due to the abundant fishing stocks and tourism activity.
Currently, MNP park wardens carry out between two and three patrols per week, which includes at least one trip to Isla de la Plata for logistics. Park wardens carry out routine coastal patrols for fishery monitoring i.e. octopus, whitefish, sea cucumber, snapper and reef fish. The principal threats are from artisanal fishers using vessels with 75HP outboard motors targeting resources out of season and commercial vessels entering the reserve. With the introduction of the long range camera at Isla de la Plata, the control center has improved monitoring of commercial fishing and tourism vessels to the west of Isla de la Plata. The camera has allowed for timely interdictions and a reduction in the use of fuel. However, as there is only one patrol vessel, it still remains expensive to patrol and interdict around Isla de la Plata as the patrol vessel belongs to the central office leaving the park wardens at Isla de la Plata without patrol assets and allowing illegal activities to continue unchecked.
This project paid for MNP to procure a new patrol vessel, engine, and needed parts.