Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Improving the Spiny Lobster Fishery in the Galapagos Marine Reserve

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

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The Galapagos Archipelago is recognized worldwide for its particular oceano-graphic and geological features, which influenced the origin of unique terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The most valuable shellfish species commercially harvested in the area are the red and green spiny lobsters, and the sea cucumber. Between 1999 and 2002 there was exponential growth in the number of Galapagos fishing license holders and vessels. Consequently, fishing effort increased in the spiny lobster fishery leading to its over-exploitation. This trend reversed after the 2007 – 2009 global financial crisis, which resulted in a decreased demand for lobster. While the economic crisis was detrimental for Galapagos fishers, it was beneficial for spiny lobster stocks. Two years after the official end of the recession, lobster catch per unit effort and catch increased. In order to continue this trend technical and scientific assistance has been provided to the Galapagos National Park Service and the local fishing sector, by environmental NGOs. Management strategies have been defined, which take into consideration input from local fishers and the results of several studies concerning the status, management and marketing system of the Galapagos spiny lobster fishery. As a result, a series of strategies were agreed upon by participants to improve the management of the fishery in an integrated way, including activities to improve the value chain, fishery monitoring and the social capital of fisher´s organizations. These actions have resulted in the diversification of products and markets, resulting in higher revenues for fishers.