Galapagos: Vice Ministry of Fisheries opposes the expansion of the Marine Reserve
Quito – This morning, together with representatives of the fishing sector and the support of the Assembly members of the Food Sovereignty Commission of the Assembly, the Vice Minister of Aquaculture and Fisheries, Andrés Arens, expressed his opposition to the expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve beyond the 40 miles it now owns.
Faced with the possibility of expanding the Reserve or creating an additional area for the conservation of marine species around the Galapagos Islands, Arens pointed out that if the fishing area begins to be reduced due to the increase in the reserve area of the The marine area is going to drive away the fishing sector, cause the bankruptcy of cities like Manta and put in serious trouble industries related to fishing such as canning, canning, oils and shrimp.
The vice minister assured that there is no technical support, no scientific study, prepared by an accredited National Institute that endorses an expansion of the reserve, and that the Ecuadorian fleet, which is the one that fishes in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) does not have a high percentage of incidentability of vulnerable species.
“We are talking about highly migratory species, the species travel many kilometers a year, protecting a point in the ocean is not going to make the species better conserve (…) Protect all these areas, create prohibitions, I think that It is not the solution (…), “Arens said, adding that it is not convenient to increase the reserve, without control capacity.
From the industrial fishing sector, Bruno Leone, president of the National Fisheries Chamber, pointed out that the area outside the protected zone is very important for the Ecuadorian fleet fishing, that of the total fishing in Ecuador, 25% are carried out in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and that, of that 25% (about 280 thousand tons), 96% is in the Galápagos EEZ and that 46% of the fleet are small ships.
Leone also pointed out that the increase in the marine reserve will not solve the problem of the foreign fleet on the high seas, that the tuna fleet complies with a series of regulations to take care of the species and also the fishing as the immediate release of other species, and that the Ecuadorian fishing fleet will subject to all existing controls and regulations, with very severe penalties if breached.
The head of the Fisheries Chamber pointed out that the creation of a marine corridor is not a solution to protect the species. On this issue, later, Arens stated that the macro project of the corridor between Galapagos and Isla de los Cocos (Costa Rica) is a giant area where they want to prevent fishing activity in supposed protection of the migration routes that they are much broader than the “areas they say they want to protect.”
On the same subject, Luigi Benincasa, executive director of the Ecuadorian Tuna Boat Association (ATUNEC), said he wants to warn about “a whole package” that will affect the Ecuadorian industry, not only the expansion of the reserve, but the marine corridor that unites Galapagos and El Coco, of 211 million hectares that “intend to crystallize it” and prohibit fishing. “They want those corridors for cruise ships, be careful,” he said.
Benincasa reiterated that Ecuador unloads up to 400 thousand tons of tuna per year and, if the reserve is expanded, 55% of the boats that fish outside 40 miles will go bankrupt and the competitive advantage of the Ecuadorian fleet, which is the only authorized to fish there.
“They are not going to affect the foreign fleet, but the Ecuadorian fishing fleet. We liquidate the medium-sized ones, Manta lives off fishing (…) They are going to affect the smallest and a social problem is going to come because many people it will go to unemployment and that will lead to crime, “added Benincasa.
Guillermo Morán, representative of TUNACONS (made up of five companies), pointed out that there is a release of sensitive species of turtles and sharks, that incidental fishing for sharks does not exceed 1%, that scientific information has been improved and that it contributes to avoiding the impacts on marine diversity, that industrial fishing is regulated and that work continues to reduce bycatch.
Representatives of the continental and Galápagos cooperatives participated in the artisanal fishing sector, who agreed to reject the intention to expand the reserve. Gabriel Cruz, president of Cooperativas Pesqueras del Ecuador (Fenacopec), said that we must take care of nature, but there is also the right to work. “We are more than 200 thousand families that are going to be affected,” he said.
Meanwhile, Grace Unda, from the Galápagos Fisheries Production Cooperative “PROMAR”, said that half of the vessels are not operational because there are no incentives, they cannot fish with longlines because the environmental sectors prohibited it and they have a “fight of twenty years “for them to be allowed to fish and insisted that the Vice Ministry of Fisheries have a presence in the Islands because now they are managed by the National Park and under the influence of environmental sectors.
Dionisio Zapata, from the Galápagos fishing cooperative Copropag, said that conservationists worry about their salary and that tourist boats are the ones that have destroyed nature. Pedro Ascencio, representative of the Association of Fishing Shipowners, said that there must be a study of biomass because there is an over population of sharks and that also harms fishing activity.
“I agree with most of the expressions that have been made today, I believe that the participation that the fishing sector has in the economy and the social problems that the artisanal fishing sector of Galapagos has has been clearly exposed, which represents fishing for Ecuador, “said Arens, who intervened after all these sectors.
In the end, the Food Sovereignty Commission approved, unanimously, a resolution proposed by the assemblyman, Carlos Bergmann, in which it is requested that the Marine Reserve be maintained in the 40 miles and, additionally, the competent organisms are requested the sustenance to request the extension.
The Galapagos Marine Reserve was created in 1998 and there are proposals, both in the Assembly and from environmental sectors to analyze a possible expansion from 40 miles to 80 nautical miles.
In December 2019, at the 25th United Nations Climate Change Summit, held in December 2019 in Madrid (Spain), President Lenín Moreno regretted that ecological risks persist in the Sierra, Amazonia and the Galapagos Islands, indicated that it will strengthen protected areas and, in this context, he pointed out that the Galapagos Islands face challenges such as continental plastic pollution, pressure from fishing fleets and illegal fishing. “We are analyzing its expansion to take care of that heritage for the benefit of humanity, the local population and its biodiversity,” he said.
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