It’s a depressing ecological disaster in the making. A fleet of mainly Chinese trawlers spanning an area of 350 kilometres and a wall of nets which is a ‘wall of death’ for fish, sharks and marine mammals. For several days now reports have been emerging of the size and scope of the fishing effort by Chineses fishing interests in the area south of the Galapagos Islands. It is one of the most important and unique areas on the planet for marine life.
Two of the largest Marine Protected Areas (MPA) exist in the Pacific off Ecuador and Chile. The Galapagos and also the world’s largest MPA around Easter Island,. However fish and especially marine mammals don’t recognize lines on maps and where as at one time fishing was more random now its a clinical industrial operation that can place a line of nets over many hundreds of kilometers.
It’s not the first time that mass industrial Chinese fishing has taken place in the area. In 2019 there were 290 vessels both fishing and processing the catch. This time the scale of the operation seems larger. The South American States involved do what they can to administer the areas that are contained within MPAs or their territorial seas but outside these the scope for action is limited.
Of course it’s not just here that the voracious appetite of the Chinese government and its interest are active. Large fleets work the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In addition China is on a collision course with its neighbours in the South China Sea over fisheries. Additionally in the past decade the Chinese have moved into the North Atlantic fishing off the West Coast of Mauritania and Morocco
However the Galapagos and the waters of the Pacific coasts of South America are a unique marine resource and if this continues whole species will be decimated,
Image: Marine Traffic (AIS) image this evening shows the pattern and extent of this fleet. The situating has been like this for several days
Report here on Ecuador Navy monitoring of the vast fleet:
Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (21st July 2020)