Atuneros Reject Expansion of Marine Reserve

Galapagos: tuna fishing fleet rejects expansion of the Marine Reserve

August 17, 2020 – 11:38 am

Quito –

This morning in the Assembly’s Sovereignty and International Relations Commission, Luigi Benincasa, head of the Ecuadorian Tuna Boat Association (ATUNEC), ratified this sector’s opposition to the possibility of expanding the Galapagos Marine Reserve (RMG), more than 40 miles. 

“That is the famous buffer area that the gentlemen in Galapagos are asking for so much of, and this area here is very rich in fishing for our Ecuadorian fleet. We are not going to take away the opportunity of fishing resources from foreign fleets, we are going to take away the opportunity to 30% of what the Ecuadorian fleet fishes in that area (…). I see a terrible campaign to achieve the expansion of the Galapagos reserve area at any cost. It does not matter if they take on another very generous industry – they do not mind expanding and handing over sovereignty to an NGO so that they can come to manage the controls in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” said Benincasa.

The representative of the tuna sector expressed that they are not against it and that the most appropriate mechanisms should be used to continue sustaining and conserving the species. In fact, the International Tropical Tuna Convention (CIAT), of which Ecuador is a party, has several regulations in this regard.

Benincasa reported that Ecuador is a world power in tuna, fishing both in the EEZ and on the high seas. 45% of what is fished in the Southeast Pacific Ocean is done with Ecuadorian flag vessels, with 112 vessels of the tuna fishing fence fleet, with an annual production capacity of more than 500,000 tons, around 3,500 direct jobs in the fleet and 16,860 direct jobs in processing plants.

Furthermore, since Ecuador does not consume all the tuna they fish, they proceed to export, which generates foreign exchange and sustains dollarization and jobs.

In the scope of controls at sea, Benincasa noted that vessels that fish for tuna must be duly registered with the IATTC and that longline vessels must do the same with the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO-PS).

According to the regulations of the South Pacific RFMO, you must wait three years to request information on the ships that transited three years ago and “we should already be requesting what happened three years ago, not resting on our laurels. If that really is the regulation, then apply it and start asking what happened in 2016, in 2018. “

Benincasa drew attention to the Antigua Convention, whose approval is pending and which rests in the Assembly for years. Ecuador is not a member, but the Antigua Convention also has provisions for the conservation of highly migratory species.

In transshipment, only the tuna fishing fence fleet has the obligation to carry out transshipments in authorized ports and no other fishery has this obligation. The RFMO have tried to has been this obligation on all types of fishing, but “when we get to this, all the countries Asians, come together and make a common front and do not let these types of regulations pass,” said Benincasa.

Among other clarifications, ATUNEC pointed out that no country gives a sustainable fishing permit, as indicated in the resolution approved by the Plenary of the Assembly. Also, that there is no prohibition to put fuel on the high seas, as long as all standards of environmental care are met. This supply is done by lay people and with international companies, Benicasa assured.

Arnaud Peral, resident coordinator of the United Nations System in Ecuador, excused himself from attending due to scheduling issues and Chen Guoyou, China’s ambassador, did not respond to the invitation. In the afternoon, the Commission expects to receive Foreign Minister Luis Gallegos and other authorities.

Read the entire article from El Comercio at

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021

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