Over 200 Chinese fishing boats have amassed just outside the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Galapagos Islands, sparking worldwide concern that the Ecuadorian government won’t be able to keep those boats from overfishing.
The ships are clustered off an area (see the red part of map below) that the Ecuadorian government is working with Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia to create a joint marine reserve corridor that would protect the fish that swim through there.
While this isn’t the first time Chinese fishing boats have come to the region, the fleet’s size this year is raising alarms both within the Ecuadorian government as well as with scientists and ocean conservationists.
According to Yolanda Kakabadse, Ecuador’s former environment minister:
“This fleet’s size and aggressiveness against marine species is a big threat to the balance of species in the Galapagos.”
According to a statement from the Chinese Embassy in Ecuador:
“China understands, respects, and supports the measures Ecuador has taken to protect the environment and marine resources. As a responsible fishing country, China takes strict measures of vigilance and control. After consulting with the Chinese authorities and having verified with the Ecuadorian Navy, all the Chinese fishing boats are operating legally on the high seas outside the Galapagos Islands Exclusive Economic Zone, and do not represent any threat to anyone and their legal rights should be guaranteed.”