Sea Rescue Galápagos
This outlines the plans to establish a privately funded sea rescue organization on the Galápagos Islands.
The mission of Sea Rescue Galápagos will be to:
- Provide round-the-clock response to marine emergencies on the water
- Protect the coastal environment from damage caused by oil spill and other hazardous substances
- Educate children and their families in safety at sea
The Galápagos Marine Reserve is one of the largest and most biologically diverse in the world. It is home to nearly 9,000 species, many of them rare and unique to the Islands, including giant tortoises, land iguanas, flightless cormorants, and the only species of penguin that lives north of the equator. The Galápagos archipelago consists of 125 islands, spread out over 90,000 square kilometers of internal and offshore waters. Only four of the thirteen major islands are inhabited with a total population of around 25,000 persons.
Providing search and rescue response capability to such a large area is very challenging, and the Ecuadorian coast guard meets the challenge with determination and professionalism. However, they have a large area to patrol, a limited budget, and other important responsibilities.
Learning from the Swedish Sea Rescue Society
Establishing a private sea rescue organization in the Galápagos would be a welcome addition to available resources, one that would greatly benefit both inhabitants and the environment. Galápagos Sea Rescue will learn from and be inspired by the Swedish Sea Rescue Society, established in 1907. This non-governmental sea rescue society is involved in approximately 90 percent of all sea rescues in Sweden, without receiving any government funding.
The most important mission of Sea Rescue Galápagos will be responding to distress alerts for accidents at sea.
In an archipelago like the Galápagos, people’s lives are closely linked to the ocean. Tourism has become the biggest part of the economy and transporting tourists, often at sea, is the largest employment sector. Fishing is another large sector, employing over 5% of the islands’ population. But a large number of people in combination with an unpredictable ocean makes accidents and incidents an unfortunate part of life.
Responding to accidents at sea
Sea Rescue Galápagos will work to increase people’s safety at sea. If there is a distress call for a capsized boat or a collision at sea, one or more rescue boats will be dispatched from the closest base. The bases are located within the archipelago and staffed around-the-clock by trained rescue crews.
Preventing accidents through education
While not on active duty, sea rescue personnel will work to prevent accidents by teaching safety at sea to children and their families. The organization is planning to collaborate with local schools and authorities to reach all members of society.