July 29, 2020
Mauricio Gándara Gallegos
Now that the huge Chinese fishing fleet, of something like 260 boats, is devastating our maritime fauna in the corridor between our Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles from the mainland and the Galapagos area, and the national and international indignation and worries about defending the natural riches of the seas grows and while we were getting ready to write our weekly column on Wednesdays, to persist, once again, that joint work be carried out with the Convemar, with its Platform Commission, to extend our maritime continental shelf from 200 to 350 miles, work for which we have wasted eight of the ten years we have to do it, suddenly, the defense minister calls a press conference that leaves us surprised: he informs the country that progress has been made in several studies, in that of the Carnegie submarine mountain range, by 70%, and which are expected to be completed until December of this year; that you advance in those of the Cocos mountain range.
He says that this would avoid the presence of foreign fishing companies in the international water corridor located between the island and continental exclusive economic zones; He mentions that there is also “progress” (46 days in coordination with Costa Rica); He says that the studies have not been concluded due to the conditions of the oceanographic ship Orión and the change to the Centurion ship has to proceed, although the budget viability and deadlines in the Ministry of Economy and Finance have not been known.
I, who consider the minister to be a man of clear ideas, have been confused. The new chancellor has only contributed with some comments that have not clarified much, when he says “that it is not that nothing has been done in these eight years”, “they have been working intensely” and “they hope to present the report with the necessary reports in agreement with Costa Rica for the extension of the platform, until September ”.
In such a complex, delicate and specialized matter, the Government must inform the country, in writing, in detail, what has actually been done so far and what is planned to be done, with precise times and deadlines, thus avoiding speculation, for example , on the role of Costa Rica, with whom we have long been defining our maritime limits; the same, with the position of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, because the Government is only one; if internally there are no agreements, nothing is said and public mistrust deepens.
Ecuadorians hope that the extension of our continental shelf will be obtained due to the many economic advantages, and because we have felt humiliated, powerless, unprotected in the face of this immense fleet that takes away our marine wealth, and, we ask ourselves, why is it wasted so much time? With the previous president we lost five years; With the current one, three, and things still seem doubtful of being achieved in the few months that remain in government, and while the ten-year term is expiring. Are you formally working with the Convemar Commission?
The responsibility is enormous: it is the national heritage.