China continues to prey on the South American Pacific Ocean

Ecuador Galapagos Fishing Fleet

Stock photo provided by the Galapagos National Park, Ecuador. On August 13, 2017, an Ecuadorian prosecutor participates in the inspection of a Chinese ship where 300 tons of marine species were found, several of them in danger of extinction. In July 2020, a congregation of some 260 mostly Chinese fishing boats near the Galapagos archipelago sparked diplomatic tensions and raised concerns about the threat to sharks, manta rays and other vulnerable species, in the waters around the site of the UNESCO world heritage. (Photo: Galapagos National Park via AP)

China continues to prey on the South American Pacific Ocean

By Yolima Dussán / Diálogo
January 13, 2021

The Government of Peru published a decree in November that orders that, as of January 1, 2021, all vessels with foreign flags that use Peruvian waters must carry an additional satellite device to the one they already bring. This will allow the authorities to know with greater precision what is the route and the movements of the ship.

The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Luis Gallegos confirmed to the EFE agency on October 18 that a fishing fleet with flags mostly from China had moved from the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone of Ecuador to the north of Peru.

Days earlier, on October 6, the environmental website Mongabay Latam, published an investigation about Chinese fishing boats in the Galapagos Islands. “They sweep away the sea and evade regulations,” says the document that tracked the names and companies of 139 Chinese-flagged ships identified in the area. “All of them are registered with the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization, however, they do not always have scientific observers on board, they are not properly controlled upon arrival, they turn off their satellite systems and some have a history of illegal fishing. It is very difficult to distinguish what happens within that great mass that exceeds 300 ships of more than 55 meters long each, not even their exact number is known.”

According to the 2020 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report, from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), China is the leader in the index of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The Mongabay researchers recorded the testimony of scientists working in the Galapagos Islands. They concluded that the Chinese fishing boats arrived in the area after observing the debris found in the sea; plastic bottles, shoes, buckets and even fishing nets. “The bottles are unmistakable for the Asian characters and we know that they come from the south, they do not come from Asia,” said biologist Sofía Green, from the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Oceana, an NGO dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, reported on its website on October 1 that the fishing fleet is advancing on a journey that it described as a predator, from the Exclusive Economic Zone of Ecuador, between the continental territory and the Galapagos Islands, and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Peru, with transit to the waters of Chile and Argentina, where they will remain until the end of December.

“It is important that Latin American countries form a bloc to fight illegal fishing, and part of that is to prevent collaboration with this fleet,” Milko Schvartzman, a marine conservation specialist for the organization, told Mongabay on August 10. Argentine Circle of Environmental Policies, and that has studied this fleet for years. For him, part of the problem is the port services, transshipments and fueling used by the Chinese fishing fleet in each country.

“It is important that Latin American countries form a bloc to fight illegal fishing, and part of that is to prevent collaboration with this fleet,” Milko Schvartzman, specialist in marine conservation at the Argentine organization Circle of Environmental Policies.

Read the entire coverage:

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

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