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1 . Ecuador     Ecuador
A few coral communities occur on the mainland coast of Ecuador and one true reef at Machalilla. However, it is in the Galapagos Islands that reefs are best developed. This archipelago is influenced by a major surface current, the South Equatorial Current, which flows from the east, largely fed by the cool Peru Oceanic Current (20-24°C) and the colder Peru Coastal Current (15°C). This current is strongly driven by the nearly constant southeast trade winds, while additional impetus is given by the Panama Current which flows south from the Panama Bight in December to January. Below the South Equatorial Current, an easterly Equatorial Undercurrent is generated at a depth of 100 meters, which is deflected to the surface by Fernandina and Isabela. Cool nutrient-rich water is therefore present all year round (except during El Niño events) and this restricts coral growth and reef development to the eastern sides of Isabela, Santa Cruz and the northern coasts of San Cristóbal.

For the most part these reefs are poorly developed patches and do not form true fringing structures. Species diversity is also low. Although the reefs are well protected there have been some impacts from bleaching and bioerosion. Fishing pressures have recently increased dramatically in a few areas, notably for the export trade in sea cucumbers and shark. Significant bleaching also impacted these reefs, both in 1982-83 and in 1997-98, with both events causing considerable coral mortality.

Although the overall human population is low in the Galapagos, the fishing lobby is significant and powerful. In nearshore waters, the most important industrial fisheries include lobster and sea cucumber, while numbers of fishers have grown considerably. The number of lobster fishers alone grew from 500 in 1999 to nearly 1 000 in 2000. Efforts to place restrictions on these industries have led to considerable hostility and violence by the fishers, but also to some weakening of catch limits as a form of appeasement.
Source: Spalding, M.D., C. Ravilious and E.P. Green , 2001 , World Atlas of Coral Reefs . Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press,Berkeley,USA.421p. (See Document)

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