In the 1990s, tuna fishermen were depleting Ecuadorian waters, especially around the bountiful Galapagos. In response, the government of Ecuador established a 133,000-square-kilometer reserve around the archipelago, barring Ecuador's industrial fleet, the largest in the eastern Pacific, from roaming freely around the islands. The reserve was a victory for conservationists, on paper at least.
In fact, it created a new set of challenges. Prior to the establishment of the reserve, the Galapagos National Park Service had been responsible for securing only the terrestrial territory of the archipelago. Suddenly, they had a new mandate: to patrol and protect the ocean around the islands, an area roughly the size of the state of New York. And yet, the Park Service had no maritime equipment or training and little precedent to guide them. Over the next decade, the government and international partners worked to equip the rangers with the tools needed to meet their new mandate.