“Can anyone stop the fleet of almost 17,000 Chinese ships that are preying on the world’s oceans?”

August 25, 2020 – 12:27 pm

The Chinese fleet that circulates the world’s seas had 16,966 ships, five times more than previous estimates. 340 of them are currently fishing near Ecuador.

The fleet of 340 boats, mostly Chinese, that is fishing in the vicinity of Ecuador has caused “outrage” abroad, reports an article published today by the English media outlet The Guardian.

According to the outlet, China has given mixed signals that its vast international fishing fleet could begin to falter after a “strident response” from Ecuador.

In fact, the Chinese embassy in Ecuador declared a “zero tolerance” policy towards illegal fishing, and this week announced that it was tightening the rules for its “huge flotilla with a series of new regulations.”

However, controlling this fleet would not be easy as 325 of the 340 vessels have intermittently disconnected their satellite tracking and communication systems in violation of global fisheries management rules. This behavior has already been denounced by the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defense of Ecuador.

“China’s vast fishing fleet, by far the largest in the world, has overfished the seas much farther from the world’s gaze than the islands known for their giant tortoises and iguanas (Galapagos).

From the West African Gulf of Guinea to the Korean Peninsula, the fleet has moved into other countries’ waters, shutting down transponders to avoid detection, depleting fish stocks and threatening the food security of often poor coastal communities,” indicates The Guardian.

The Chinese fleet that circulates the world’s seas had 16,966 ships, five times more than previous estimates. By contrast, the US offshore fleet comprises 300 ships, according to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

In 2017, as part of its 13th Five-Year Fishing Plan, China announced plans to limit the size of the fleet to 3,000 vessels by 2020.

China’s new regulations, announced this week, include tougher penalties for companies and captains involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. But conservationists monitoring the Galapagos episode are skeptical.

“Beyond this unilateral announcement, the problem remains the same,” Pablo Guerrero, director of marine conservation for WWF Ecuador, tells The Guardian.

“These vessels operate without observers on board, they do not return to port, they transship their catch to mother ships, which land the catch in ports. So, simply put, they are fishing all the time, the fishing operation does not stop, “he adds.

The fleet is an extensive and complex network. Among the hundreds of vessels are fuel suppliers, fishing boats, tender boats and reefers, some of which camouflage unregistered boats, Guerrero says.

Many ships spend long periods at sea where “appalling” human rights violations have been reported. There is even talk of slavery, prostitution and trafficking.

The NGO Global Fishing Watch and the ODI think tank have used cutting-edge technology and data analysis to reveal that the size and scope of China’s distant water fleet has not been properly reported.

“We were surprised by the results because we expected 4,000 to 5,000 vessels,” Miren Gutiérrez, lead author of the ODI report, tells The Guardian.

The investigation, which took more than a year, also found that nearly 1,000 of the vessels used “flags of convenience” and at least 183 vessels were involved in alleged illegal fishing, making China the worst performing nation in the world on a global index for 2019.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that illegal fishing has an annual cost of up to 23 billion dollars. FAO also estimates that about 60 million people worked in fisheries or aquaculture in 2016, 85% of them in Asia.

Read at bit.ly/0824universo2 https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2020/08/25/nota/7954498/flota-china-pesca-galapagos-ecuador-fuerzas-armadas-depredacion

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2020

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