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Chinese reefer cargo transhipment from a squid jigger vessel and a small trawler

Chinese fleet off the Galapagos reveals loopholes for deep-sea fishing

Click on the flag for more information about Ecuador ECUADOR
Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 03:00 (GMT + 9)

  • Scientists and conservationists fear that Chinese vessels are catching endangered species such as sharks and rays.
  • On the high seas, there are practically no laws regulating fishing activity. The global treaty that was to be signed this year and that was born with the purpose of filling that gap, left out issues related to catch regulations.
The Chinese fleet moves from south to north until it reaches the limits of the exclusive economic zone of the Galapagos. The movement of the last days has been bordering the area from east to west. Image: Global Fishing Watch. (Click on the image to enlarge)
 
Some 260 Chinese vessels have been fishing within the limits of the exclusive economic zone of the Galapagos for more than a week, alarming authorities, scientists and conservationists.
 
Although this huge fleet is in international waters and has not entered Ecuadorian maritime territory, experts warn that there are well-founded reasons to believe that these ships are capturing species that are in danger of extinction.
 
One of the most emblematic cases in the world of illegal fishing still remains in the memory of Ecuadorians. The case of the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 ship that was intercepted by the Ecuadorian Navy in 2017 within the Galapagos Marine Reserve and that hid 300 tons of sharks inside.
 
A fleet of about 260 Chinese vessels fish south of the Galapagos Exclusive Economic Zone. Photo: Global Fishing Watch. (Click on the image to enlarge)
 
The tension caused by the arrival of the Chinese fleet to the limits of one of the most important marine protection areas in the region and in the world, reveals once again the absence of governance on the high seas and the urgency of creating laws that allow regulate fishing in international waters.
 
Threatened species can be caught
 
“There is a lot of concern about the volume of fishing. We are talking about a gigantic fleet ”, says Luis Suárez, director of the NGO Conservation International in Ecuador. The 260 main ships - including fishing vessels - for supply and storage have the main objective of catching squid or giant squid (Dosidicus gigas), says Alex Muñoz, director for Latin America of the National Geographic Pristine Seas program.
 
"Squid is a very important functional group in the marine ecosystem," says Alex Hearn, Vice President of the NGO Migramar, "there may be ecological impacts by reducing these resources," says the marine biologist. In fact, he adds that this species "is the main food of the hammerhead shark." (Continued ...)
 
Author: Michelle Carrere / Mongabay | Read the full article here (Spanish)
 


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