The measure, according to the agency, will prevent the entry, distribution and marketing in Galapagos of bags with handles that are usually distributed in supermarkets. "The average use of these covers is 15 minutes but their degradation takes 200 years," Viviana de la Rosa, head of environmental education for the Galapagos National Park, told AFP. Each year 4.5 million bags of this type are used on the islands. Plastic waste is one of the main threats to marine life on the planet, and in the case of Galapagos it represents an additional problem because the island does not have sufficient capacity to treat solid waste. "Everything that enters here is very difficult for it to leave. And this type of ordinance is going to prevent these products from entering the island, which are so difficult to degrade," de la Rosa said. Cradle of evolutionary theory, the Galapagos Islands are one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet. Located 1,000 km from the mainland, the archipelago - which is named after the giant tortoises that inhabit it - is made up of 13 islands where 27,284 people live. Along with the prohibition, the Galapagos National Park plans to encourage the use of cloth bags or more environmentally friendly materials, according to de la Rosa.
Most of the plastic that pollutes the archipelago is washed away by ocean currents. Birds and other species in the oceans mistake these wastes for food and die when they eat them. An estimated 1.5 million birds, fish, whales and turtles die each year in the oceans from plastic debris, according to Laurence Maurice of the French Institute for Research on Development (IRD).