WILDAID’S OCEANS WEEK CHALLENGE
Happy World Oceans Week!
With your support, WildAid is answering the call to protect our oceans from the threat of illegal fishing and ghost fishing gear by strengthening enforcement of the world’s marine protected areas – designated sanctuaries that are vital for mantas, sea turtles, sharks and other marine animals.
A WildAid donor will match online contributions up to a total of $25,000 through June 8 to support marine protection in Ecuador, which is under threat from illegal fishing and ghost fishing gear.
WildAid supports Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment to protect Ecuador’s network of marine protected areas — a series of pristine coastal habitats that harbor an amazing diversity of marine life including 20 kinds of whales and dolphins, hammerhead and whale sharks, and countless species of fish, corals, and mollusks. We have helped Machalilla National Park rangers to:
- Recover hundreds of ghost fishing nets and longlines (abandoned fishing gear that entangles marine life) over the last two years;
- Rescue 15 humpback whales entangled in longlines and nets since 2013;
- Increase patrols by 162% since 2016;
- Successfully rehabilitate 75 injured sea turtles and release them back to the sea.
In honor of this year’s World Oceans Day focus on plastics, we will tackle ghost fishing gear, which accounts for over 100,000 dolphin, whale, sea turtle and sea lion deaths every year. A recent study found that gill nets specifically, trap and kill over 40,000 sea turtles every year in Ecuador alone. The rangers at Machalilla National Park patrol their waters every day and recover abandoned fishing gear during their patrols. As they work, they release marine life trapped in nets or longlines, including sea turtles, sharks, and mantas. To support the rangers, we need your help to:
- Renovate their ranger station with the installation of plumbing and electricity, which would allow rangers to stay there during multi-day patrols. This would decrease operating costs for the park and increase time on the water to defend against illegal and ghost fishing gear.
- Install a second surveillance camera to monitor 100% of the reserve to better detect poachers leaving their fishing gear and deter them from entering the protected area.
- Fund ranger patrols around Machalilla’s abundant waters to defend them from the threat of illegal fishing.
Please help us meet our goals this year with your donation of just $100, which will pay for one patrol. We thank you in advance!
ABOUT MACHALILLA NATIONAL PARK
In the heart of Ecuador’s coast, Machalilla National Park and its famous Isla de la Plata, host the largest population of giant manta rays in the world with over 1,500 individuals, feeding zones for humpback whales, aggregations of thousands of nesting and hatchling sea turtles, pristine coral reefs, crabs, and tropical reef fish.
“Isla de la Plata is the undiscovered jewel of the Pacific. Lying just offshore of the mainland of Ecuador […], this little diamond in the rough boasts some of the most spectacular manta ray diving in the world and unforgettable up-close encounters with massive mature individuals.” — Dr. Andrea Marshall, Ray of Hope expeditions and “Manta Queen”
Unfortunately, its extensive biodiversity also attracts illegal fishing. Species, such as giant mantas, that swim slowly and near the surface are particularly at risk for entanglement in illegal long lines and gill nets.
“Ghost gear has become a huge but overlooked threat to marine life, and 640,000 metric tons of it are added to the oceans each year – a rate of more than a ton every minute.” — The Independent
We are committed to protecting the unique ecosystem at Machalilla National Park from the threat of ghost gear and illegal fishing for years to come.