Study: Illegal Chinese Fishing Boats Pollute Galapagos Islands

Illegal Chinese fishing vessels are to blame for most of the man-made marine waste near the Galapagos Islands Marine Preserve. It is situated off Ecuador’s Pacific Coast. The Latin American news website Infobae reported Monday.

Ecuador’s federal government released the results of a new study on July 25 that found the majority of garbage detected in or near the Galapagos Islands “comes from Asian vessels that fish in international waters,” Infobae reported.

Ecuador Environment minister Gustavo Manrique stated that the study provided enough evidence for him to believe that this is a result of Chinese boats fishing giant squid each year in Ecuador .”

” This is despite the fact ships that operate in international waters in front the Galapagos Exclusive Economic Zone are forbidden from throwing plastic in the ocean. However, some bottles and oil cans with Asian characters (mostly Chinese) were found piling up along the Archipelago beaches. This indicates that these boat wastes are thrown in the ocean .”

Residents of the Galapagos Islands hold a demonstration outside the court where the crew of the Chinese-flagged ship confiscated by the Ecuadorean Navy is attending a hearing, on August 25, 2017. (Photo by JUAN CEVALLOS/AFP via Getty Images)

Ecuador’s government established the Galapagos Islands Marine Preserve in 1998 to protect 50,000-plus square miles of Pacific Ocean located roughly 600 miles off of the country’s coastline. The archipelago is known for its unique biodiversity, which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Chinese boats have illegally fished near or in the Galapagos Islands Marine Preserve over the years, despite it being an internationally recognised no-fishing area. Illegal Chinese fishing activities near islands threaten their biodiversity and violate Ecuador’s sovereignty, who retains all rights to explore natural resources in waters off its coast.

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Conservative Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso expanded the Galapagos Islands Marine Preserve to include an additional 23,166 square miles in January. The decision was announced in November 2021 and was likely influenced by China’s illegal fishing near Ecuador, which had ramped up in the months preceding the expansion. An Ecuador-based conservationist group called Mas Galapagos denounced Beijing in June 2021 for deploying an illegal fleet of Chinese fishing boats to waters near the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve.

The Ecuadorian Navy seized a Chinese vessel for illegally fishing within the Galapagos Marine Reserve’s territory in August 2017. Ecuadorian authorities discovered nearly 7,000 endangered sharks onboard the boat and subsequently arrested 20 of the vessel’s crew members.

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