Fisheries and Sustainability, A Debate That Reaches the Galapagos Islands
Posted by DHWeb | Jan 25, 2021
DIARIO DEL HUILA, ENVIRONMENT
Local fishermen, representatives of the large fishing industry such as the tuna industry, biologists, scientists and authorities have gathered this weekend in this town on Santa Cruz Island, in the Ecuadorian archipelago, to analyze the challenges faced by a sector that has been subject to conservation restrictions for more than three decades.
The Minister President of the Galapagos Government Council, Norman Wray, recalled that the Galapagos Marine Reserve has been a protected area since 1998, in which no industrial fishing activity is allowed, although low-impact artisanal fishing is allowed.
“This has allowed Galapagos to continue being a very important conservation site and one of the best Unesco sites,” said the head of the government of the islands, where 15,000 inhabitants live according to the latest census.
Aware of the limitations faced by the sector and the devastating effects that the pandemic has had on the local economy, Wray proposes formulas such as looking for “an added value of the existing fishing effort at this time.”
Along these lines, it proposes the production of a traditionally-caught tuna in the archipelago within the framework of an exportable name that can attract, for example, the European consumer aware of the environmental impact of mass catches.
How to maintain an artisanal activity such as fishing in one of the most protected and recognized marine ecosystems in the world, and do it in a sustainable way, has focused the debates of the industry in what is the Third Annual Fisheries Summit, which started this Saturday in Galapagos.
“A product such as tuna, which is a migratory species and which in its cycles finds a much healthier ecosystem in Galapagos, is fished with low impact gear and which should have a much higher valuation” than that caught industrially, he explained.
The Galapagos Marine Reserve is a protected area that is located a thousand kilometers from the continental territory of Ecuador and covers about 133,000 square kilometers, equivalent to half of the country’s land area, for which it was recognized in 2001 as a Natural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco; together with the island territory, less than two years ago, [was also declared] a Biosphere Reserve.
It is one of the largest in the world and is located in a strategic maritime region, where several currents converge, which generates a mixture of cold and warm waters that facilitate the arrival, reproduction and establishment of different species from the Pacific, which makes it in a marine fauna sanctuary.
“It plays a role as a seedbed throughout the eastern Pacific”, which is why fishing activity is so great in the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone, a maritime strip that extends from the outer limit of the territorial sea to a distance of 200 miles nautical.
LIMITED ARTISANAL FISHING
For her part, Grabriela Cruz, the president of the National Federation of Fishing Cooperatives of Ecuador (Fenacopec) regretted that for thirteen years local fishermen have not been able to fish beyond 40 miles from the islands with “the appropriate fishing gear” , and that also from “the conservation sector” is proposing to expand that limit.
The representative of artisanal fishing asked that this meeting be a point of dialogue between artisanal and industrial fishermen, the scientific sector and authorities in order to reach a consensus that allows the continuation of the activity.
“We all live from sustainable fishing to protect the whales, the shark, the turtles, the birds. It is important but they cannot be above human beings and work ”, she referred to an unresolved tension between local fishing and the entities in charge of protecting a unique marine ecosystem.
Their main complaints are that fishing is very limited by those 40 miles of the established natural limit, that the authorities do not issue or delay in granting licenses, that there is an established number of rustic boats and that it is not allowed to merge two of them to obtain a larger vessel.
They also state that, on the contrary, boats and yachts used in the tourism sector – some of them large – obtain a license to sail on the islands, apparently without any type of limitations, and blame them for the pollution of the seabed and a serious impact environmental.
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© SOS Galápagos, 2021