The Malpelo Patrol Project is an initiative led by Biodiversity Conservation Trust, an Australian registered charity originally established by Owen and Mary-Ann Griffiths to protect threatened ecosystems in the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius. The guiding principle behind Owen and Mary-Ann’s conservation work is to focus on biodiversity hotspots that are facing imminent threats and are not covered by large conservation organisations.
When their son Jacob first visited Malpelo in 2014, he was simply amazed that a place so pristine still existed in an ocean that was being ravaged by Asia’s insatiable demand for shark fin soup. At that time, regular patrols by the Colombian navy had just been terminated and illegal fishing was yet to take off.
Having previously visited Cocos Island and witnessed the severe impact illegal fishing has had there over the past decade, the sight of a place as well protected as Malpelo gave him hope that the region’s other hotspots could follow Colombia’s example. Sadly, by the time of Jacob’s second visit in 2015, illegal fishing had become a regular occurrence.
Fearing for Malpelo’s future, Jacob teamed up with a Colombian park ranger and Malpelo veteran Erika Lopez to explore the possibility of setting up a new patrol operation in conjunction with the Colombian navy. After 2 years of navigating the Colombian bureaucratic system and generating sufficient support from key figures in both government and the armed forces, an agreement is now in place to resume patrols in early 2018. The Malpelo patrol project will be implemented by Biodiversity Conservation Colombia, which is the Colombian arm of Biodiversity Conservation Trust.
Key Development Partners
PRETOMA is a Costa Rican NGO that has been very active in marine conservation focusing on both the Costa Rican mainland, as well as Cocos Island. PRETOMA also actively participates in global conservation conventions such as CITES, lobbying for increased protection for vulnerable marine species including sharks and turtles. Randall Arauz, founder and director of PRETOMA is a close collaborator with the Malpelo Patrol Project, providing ongoing support and sharing his multi-decade expertise working in marine conservation in Central America.
Turtle Island Restoration Network
TIRN have been working for over a decade in the wider Eastern Tropical Pacific, focusing their conservation efforts on the Costa Rican island of Cocos, part of the migratory triangle which also links Malpelo and the Galapagos islands. Recognising the close link between the conservation of Malpelo and the safeguarding of the region’s interdependent ecosystems, Todd Steiner, founder and executive director of TIRN has provided mentoring as well as key expertise and support to the Malpelo Patrol Project.