Chinese fishing fleet raises fears on protected Galápagos Islands
Since mid-July, a fleet of more than 280 fishing vessels has been working near the border of the Galápagos marine reserve, which is home to dozens of protected species, including several types of sharks. Environmental activists say they are afraid that this massive fleet could turn the fragile ecosystem upside down. Local fishermen have already noticed a reduction in their catches.
In mid-July, residents of the Galápagos Islands, which are located in the Pacific Ocean about 1,000 kilometres off of Ecuador, discovered that a commercial fleet made up of hundreds of boats, including fishing vessels, freighters and factory vessels, were fishing on an industrial scale not far from the Galápagos marine reserve, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
The vessels appeared on sites like Marine Traffic and Global Fishing Watch, which track the location of ships around the world. Any ship with its automatic identification system (AIS) activated appears on the maps on these sites. AIS also provides info on the ship itself and its operations.
“We’ve detected between 280 and 300 vessels in this giant fleet that is operating near the Galápagos Islands, though they never stray into the reserve. Several of the vessels in the group have been used in illegal fishing operations in the past,” says Tony Long, CEO of Global Fishing Watch.
This screengrab, taken on the Marine Traffic site on Aug. 5, 2020, shows the fleet in international waters, very near to the Galápagos marine reserve. On the map, orange is used to indicate what the vessels are doing. The vessel in this image was being used for fishing.
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