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.
Representatives from the Colombian Navy, National Parks Department, Conservation International and Biodiversity Conservation Trust agree to fast-track Protect-Malpelo, April 2016
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.