Ecuador’s parliament begins debate on amendments to law on Galapagos Islands
February 6, 2012 § 1 Comment
A Commission of Ecuador’s National Assembly today began debate on a draft amendment to the special law that applies in the Galapagos Islands, which includes regulations for tourism in the archipelago declared Natural Patrimony of Humanity.
The draft law suggests the formation of a Governing Council in the Galapagos (which is also one of the 24 provinces of Ecuador), headed by a delegate or governor appointed by the Executive.
The Autonomous Government Committee of the Assembly in a statement that will analyze in detail the legislative proposal and did not rule out “socializing” or share the discussion with the inhabitants of the archipelago.
The reform promoted by the government, prohibits the award of a package of tourism operation to a single person and establish a five-year ban on the construction or adaptation of tourist accommodation, while a record is made of operators.
It also suggests conducting a census tourism in the archipelago, that during 2011, according to official figures, received 170,000 visitors.
In the Galapagos is home to about 25,000 people, most of them linked to tourism.
However, that figure is too high for many environmental groups, who believe that people should not be greater than 20,000, to protect the delicate biodiversity of the archipelago.
The project, which contains 58 articles and nine transitional provisions, also includes changes in immigration categories that currently are temporary residents, permanent, tourists and visitors.
It also proposes to fishing regulations and issues related to biosecurity and sustainable tourism in the reserve.
Located a few hundred miles west of the continental coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos archipelago encompasses a marine reserve and land of 132,000 square kilometers, of which less than 3 percent is used by man.
In July 2010 the Galapagos were removed from a list of “heritage in danger” of Unesco, which had entered in 2007 due to increased tourism, immigration and the introduction of foreign species.
Ecuadorian Environment Minister Marcela Aguinaga said then that the output of the danger list did not imply the absence of threat and therefore required a greater response of institutions and the island population to improve standards of conservation.
The Galapagos were declared in 1978 as a World Heritage Site, are named after large tortoises that inhabit them.