Expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve would not affect national fisheries, say organizations
The Mas Galapagos collective is promoting the expansion of the RMG to 200 nautical miles. Photo: Screenshot of the web https: http://www.masgalapagos.info
October 16, 2020 – 06h00
Expanding the Galapagos Marine Reserve (RMG) would not affect the national fishing sector, as stated by the Vice Minister of Aquaculture, Andrés Arens, before the Assembly, indicates Eliécer Cruz, spokesperson for the Más Galapagos collective. In fact, More Galapagos supports an increase in the GMR to 200 nautical miles.
Cruz indicates that since the RMG was created in 1998, a higher productivity of species has been generated that benefited the fishing sector: “In 1998 they also said that they would go out of business and that the tuna fleet would disappear, but it has not passed and rather more than 45 ships in 98 to 115 and increased their extraction capacity ”.
He adds that Arens’s statements are “surprising”, since the President of the Republic himself, at the climate summit in Madrid (Spain) in December 2019, said that he would carry out the necessary analyzes to expand the reserve and “this has been ratified in other forums ”.
Ecuador is the first “catcher” of tuna in the eastern Pacific and second in the world: “The GMR has brought them benefits”. Although the pressure on the fish wealth of Galapagos also occurs, according to Cruz, through the Ecuadorian industrial fleet.
The National Chamber of Fisheries has rejected a possible increase in the GMR and says that this “will not solve” the problem of foreign fleets or ensure the protection of species.
“No one is saying that with the expansion we are going to prevent the international fleets from arriving, to avoid that we must work with other countries in the region in the corresponding organizations. What we want is to increase the resilience of the GMR, to make the biomass stronger and not only for conservation issues but also for tourism and economics “, says Cruz.
Although he acknowledges that the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) has made efforts to reduce bycatch, Cruz affirms that the IATTC itself has said that fish aggregating devices are a problem.
“They are thrown adrift near the GMR. They enter and with the currents they leave with the Galapagos fishing, ”says Cruz.
Another problem that exists, according to Cruz, is that there are medium-sized boats, which do not belong to the industrial fleet, that carry fuel in their holds and when there is good fishing they throw that fuel into the sea to have more space: “There is also the national longline fleet and motherships ”.
More Galapagos affirms that the southwest of the archipelago is an important area for the “small” tuna fleet, so that in that area “the expansion would not apply”.
The 200-mile expansion would increase the protection of more than 3,000 marine species in the archipelago, of which about 500 are endemic, “under national and international pressure.”
The Galapagos National Park, the Government Council, Island Conservation, the Insular Front for the RMG, the College of Biological Sciences of the San Francisco University and Mission Blue are several of the institutions that make up Más Galapagos. (I)
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