State of Emergency Declared in Galápagos Islands after Grounding

MV Floreana aground in the Galápagos Islands. Photo: El Comité de Operaciones de Emergencias de Galápagos
MV Floreana aground in the Galápagos Islands. Photo: COE

A state of emergency has been declared in the Galápagos Islands exactly one week after a cargo ship ran aground and remains stuck just offshore of the easternmost island in the archipelago.

The MV Floreana, carrying some 1,400 tons of cargo and 13,000 gallons of fuel, ran aground on January 28 in the bay of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno just off the coast of San Cristóbal, shortly after departing San Cristóbal for Santa Cruz and other islands. The ship remains aground as salvage work to lighten, refloat, and eventually scuttle the vessel is being carried out by U.S.-based salvage firm T & T Salvage.

The state of emergency agreement was signed Wednesday by Ecuador’s minister of the environment, Lorena Tapia, minister of transportation, Paola Carvajal, and minister of non-renewable natural resources, Pedro Merizalde, with a recommendation of the Comité de Operaciones de Emergencia Provincial (COE). The agreement confirms the state of environmental emergency within the Galapagos Marine Reserve and the Galapagos National Park and makes the necessary resources available to act quickly and effectively in the prevention and mitigation of risks from the grounding.

Specifically, the agreement is aimed at the protection, rehabilitation and maintenance of marine and coastal ecosystems, including appropriate measures to prevent the stranding and sinking of the MV Floreana. The agreement also addresses the maritime transportation of cargo to and from the Galápagos Islands, as well as the fuel supply systems in populated areas – including security, storage, and distribution of hydrocarbons, the COE said.

The state of emergency will remain in effect for 180 days.