Ecuador is on alert due to the massive 260-strong Chinese fishing fleet appearing off the Galapagos Islands. The fishing-ships have been there for about three weeks in international waters, just outside a 188-mile wide the economic zone around the Galapagos. Ecuador’s patrols are trying to make sure that the vessels do not enter the fragile eco-system from international waters.
"We are on alert, [conducting] surveillance, patrolling to avoid an incident such as what happened in 2017," Ecuadorean Defence Minister Oswaldo Jarrin told reporters.
In 2017, one single Chinese vessel was caught with 300 tonnes of wildlife, most of it sharks.
The tension now is again high since an adult whale shark, which is part of a satellite tracking program, stopped signaling its location in the area. Even though there is no concrete evidence, the whale shark not transmitting its locations and the arrival of Chinese fleet is too coincidental.
In order to form regional protection against the marine disruptions and threat, President Lenin Moreno will hold consultations with other Latin American countries with coastline on the Pacific. Moreno has also communicated via social media that he had created a public-private team – comprised of the recently appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Gallegos, past WWF President and former Environment Minister Yolanda Kakabadse, and ecologist and former Quito mayor Roque Sevilla, and other specialists – to design a protection strategy for the Galapagos Islands and its maritime environment.
The Galapagos Islands are a Unesco World Heritage and we should all stand up for them.