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Article

26 Aug 2020

Author:
The Guardian

Ecuador: China’s illegal fishing off Ecuador’s coast grows, industry known for shocking human rights violations

“It’s terrifying’: can anyone stop China’s vast armada of fishing boats?” – 25 August 2020

…The recent discovery by the Ecuadorean navy of a vast fishing armada of 340 Chinese vessels just off the biodiverse Galápagos Islands stirred outrage both in Ecuador and overseas. Under pressure after Ecuador’s strident response, China has given mixed signals that it could begin to reel in its vast international fishing fleet. Its embassy in Ecuador declared a “zero tolerance” policy towards illegal fishing, and this week it announced it was tightening the rules for its enormous flotilla with a series of new regulations. But with 325 of those 340 ships remaining off Ecuador, and local navy commander Darwin Jarrín saying last week that nearly half of those vessels had intermittently switched off their satellite communications – breaching the rules of the regional fisheries management organisation – the episode has shown how difficult it is for small nations to stand up to China’s distant fleet even when it descends on the archipelago that inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. China’s vast fishing fleet, by far the world’s largest, has been overfishing seas much further from the world’s gaze than the islands known for their giant tortoises and iguanas…The fleet is a vast and complex network. Among the hundreds of vessels are fuel providers, fishing boats, tender boats and reefers, some of which camouflage unregistered boats, Guerrero says. Many ships spend long periods at sea where shocking human rights violations have been reported. NGO Global Fishing Watch and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) thinktank have used cutting-edge technology and data analysis to reveal that the size and scope of China’s distant-water fleet has been hugely underreported…

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