From 1974 through 1997 the Galapagos experienced very rapid population growth, around six per cent per year. Sustained at this level, the population would continue to double every 12 years. Increased population brings an increased risk of invasive introduced species, which endangers the fragile ecosystems. On 18 March 1998, a Special Law was passed to protect the Galapagos. This law severely limits migration to the islands.
We discuss the environmental problems that motivated the law, describe the law, and discuss anecdotal evidence on its operation and potential to date. We then theoretically assess the implications of limiting migration and empirically assess the history and drivers of migration to Galapagos. In particular we discuss distorted incentives arising from subsidies and inadequate regulations that exacerbate migration pressure. Finally, we draw on our analysis to offer some short and longer term policy solutions and ideas on how existing capacity could be enhanced to implement them.