Thanks to a generous donation from a Dutch nongovernmental organization (NGO), Emergency Communications Without Frontiers, Sea Shepherd Galapagos was able to greatly improve the radio communication networks of several governmental institutions in the Galapagos. Since in most cases even basic radio communication was absent, the need for these networks was essential to improve the safety and functionality of these organizations. We set out to have fully functional networks throughout the populated islands. Only with good communication in place can we expect the authorities to be most effective as it is an elemental factor for all enforcement activity, including the protection of marine wildlife.
The project was started in 2008 with the coming of radio expert Marcel Wensveen from the Netherlands. We set out the needs and frameworks for each institution and conducted the first site surveys.
In the beginning of 2009, we worked hard to get a massive donation of equipment through Ecuadorian customs. Once in Galapagos, entire networks were set up from scratch. The following organizations have received equipment:
- The National Police received 2 complete UHF repeater stations, 120 handheld radios, 11 multi chargers, 4 main antennas, 4 car radios, and numerous connectors, meters of cable, etc. All equipment was tested and installed by Sea Shepherd.
- Agro-Calidad (quarantine control) received 25 VHF handheld radios, 3 base radios, 4 antennas, and Sea Shepherd also repaired a damaged repeater station. Some of these radios are being used in Quito to check the incoming cargos from the continental flights.
- CIMEI (pet control) received 8 VHF handheld radios with chargers.
- The Charles Darwin Foundation also received a donation of about 10 handheld VHF radios.
- For the Galapagos National Park Service, major maintenance was performed on their existing VHF systems.
The implementation of all radio equipment was completed in December 2009. All networks are up and running and radios have been distributed among personnel of all organizations participating in the project. It is quite the sight to see a police officer out on patrol with a radio that has our name on it.
In the coming years we will offer continued service in order to repair the networks and replace parts in case of malfunction. In order to do this, Sea Shepherd keeps a small quantity of replacement radios and spare parts in its office.
The reports from the various organizations that use the networks are very positive. There is no doubt that law enforcement and environmental protection in Galapagos will be greatly improved in the coming years thanks to our efforts in the radio project.