Ecuador navy surveils huge Chinese fishing fleet near Galapagos

By Santiago Arcos ABOARD ECUADOREAN NAVY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - 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. 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

Reuters August 10, 2020 00:10:10 IST
Ecuador navy surveils huge Chinese fishing fleet near Galapagos

Ecuador navy surveils huge Chinese fishing fleet near Galapagos

By Santiago Arcos

ABOARD ECUADOREAN NAVY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - 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.

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.

Such fishing is not illegal because it takes place in international waters. But environmental activists say it allows fleets to take advantage of the abundant marine species that spill over from the Galapagos and cross into the unprotected waters.

"This is not something that will change overnight," said Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Luis Gallegos in a television interview on Sunday. "It is necessary to ... generate bilateral agreements with other countries with regards to illegal fishing, to monitor every ship that's in the South Pacific."

A Chinese vessel in 2017 was captured in the Galapagos Marine Reserve carrying 300 tons of marine wildlife.

China has promised a "zero tolerance" approach to illegal fishing and has proposed a moratorium on fishing in the area between September and November. The fishing fleets usually leave the area before that period.

The Galapagos Islands, which lie some 1,000 km (620 miles) from Ecuador's coast, are home to many unique species, including giant tortoises, and served as inspiration for 19th century British scientist Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Valencia in Quito, writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Sandra Maler)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.