Ecuador navy surveils huge Chinese fishing fleet near Galapagos
Ecuador’s navy is conducting surveillance of a massive Chinese fishing fleet that is operating near the protected waters of the Galapagos Islands, amid concerns about the environmental impact of fishing in the area of the ecologically sensitive islands.
A fishing boat is seen from an aircraft of the Ecuadorian navy after a fishing fleet of mostly Chinese-flagged ships was detected in an international corridor that borders the Galapagos Islands' exclusive economic zone, in the Pacific Ocean, August 7, 2020. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos
The navy conducted a patrol mission on Friday that included a flyover of the region where the hulking vessels are fishing, as well as reconnaissance by military patrol ships. A total of 340 vessels are currently in the area, the navy said, compared with some 260 reported last month.
Images taken as part of the flyover, which included journalists, showed that at least one of the vessels appeared to be ageing and in need of maintenance.
Ecuador’s Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Darwin Jarrin, said the navy has approached Colombia and Peru to share information and seek a regional response to the vessels, most of which can hold up to 1,000 tonnes of catch.
The fleet generally spends several weeks fishing off the coast of Peru before approaching the Galapagos.
The fishing fleet has since 2017 been arriving in the summer months and fishing just outside the Galapagos territorial waters, drawn by marine species such as the endangered hammerhead shark.