Withdrawal of fleet of Chinese ships from the outskirts of Galapagos brings relief, but does not remove the danger for the species
Satellite systems confirm that the fleet of ships, mostly Chinese, are no longer in the vicinity of Ecuador.
A report by the international organization Oceana shows that in just one month (from July 13 to August 13) 294 of the 340 ships, mostly Chinese, that make up the fleet that was on the edge of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of continental Ecuador and the insular EEZ accumulated a total of 73,058 hours of fishing.
The NGO, which used data from Global Fishing Watch to perform the calculation, affirms that the vessels caught squid, a species that is a fundamental part of the diet of iconic animals of the Galapagos Islands, such as sea lions and hammerhead sharks.
Although the movement of the fleet to the north of Peru, according to statements by Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Luis Gallegos, causes some relief, organizations warn that the danger to the species continues.
“The massive and continuous fishing effort of this fleet threatens the ecological balance,” Oceana indicates.
Before reaching the outskirts of Ecuador, dozens of Chinese vessels, belonging to the aforementioned fleet, were fishing on the border of the Argentine EEZ, another well-known access point for squid fishing.
Then they went to the EEZ of Peru. Ships traversing both the Atlantic and Pacific converged at the extreme southeast of the Ecuadorian EEZ in late June and spent July making their way west. As of August 13, fishing was concentrated along the southwestern border of Ecuador, Oceana says.
“The movement of the Chinese fleet is worrying, since data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations suggest that the Argentine squid and Humboldt squid populations have declined consecutively during the last four years,” he adds. the organization.
These data show that the oceans continue to be under enormous pressure due to human activities, says Pablo Guerrero, director of marine conservation for WWF Ecuador in an article published by the organization recently.
For the expert, the services that the seas provide to humanity are invaluable, since the future of man depends on the health of the oceans, which in good conditions are responsible for providing food, sustaining jobs, protecting coasts and fighting change. climate.
In addition, it clarifies that in international waters, where this fleet moves, there is no freedom to fish indiscriminately, since the Convemar, a legal instrument ratified by 168 countries, including China and Ecuador, mandates that the States cooperate in the management of straddling and highly migratory resources through the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO).
“The problem with this oversized fleet is that its herd operation method opens the doors to committing a series of irregularities, such as illegal vessels leaking among the legally registered vessels,” adds Guerrero.
He also questions that there are mother ships in the aforementioned fleet, since if this is not properly monitored it can lead to overfishing of the stocks and become an entry point for illegal fishing to enter the commercial chain of legal products. In addition to these ships turning off their satellite systems.
“The actions of this fleet go against the rules implemented by China to improve sustainable fishing practices. What happened in Galapagos raises the question of whether these rules were merely rhetoric, ” says Oceana.
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© SOS Galápagos, 2020