Ecuador says 149 of 325 Chinese fishing vessels avoiding contact near Galapagos

World | 19 Aug 2020 9:22 am

 Ecuador’s armed forces said on Tuesday that dozens of vessels from a predominantly Chinese fishing fleet that is operating near the Galapagos Islands have turned off tracking systems to prevent monitoring of their activities, Reuters reports.

Of around 325 ships still fishing in the waters near the ecologically sensitive Galapagos, 149 have at some point in recent months cut off communications, Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Darwin Jarrin told reporters.

Some had also changed the vessels’ names to avoid supervision, he said.

“In this period, 149 ships have turned off their satellite systems ... we know the name of the ships,” Jarrin said during a press conference. He declined to identify the vessels.

The complaint comes as the South American nation is seeking to prevent unsustainable fishing off its coast while also avoiding a confrontation with China, its largest financier and a major market for its shrimp export business.

A representative of the Chinese embassy declined to comment.

Ecuador says the fleet has not entered its territorial waters. But environmentalists say this type of fishing allows vessels to take advantage of the abundant marine wildlife that travels in the waters between the Galapagos and the mainland.

“It is a breach (of protocol) on the high seas, because they do not want us to know what they are doing and the activities they carry out,” said Defense Minister Oswaldo Jarrin.

He said turning off satellite equipment violated rules created by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), a group of international agencies that promote sustainable fishing.

The New Zealand-based South Pacific RFMO, one of the organizations that provides guidance on fishing practices in the area, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

 

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