The Galapagos Islands, considered one of the world's sanctuaries of diversity, is under assault by Chinese fishing vessels who act like marauders invading the bounty of the seas.
Ecuador, to its horror, has found out that a huge flotilla of Chinese vessels is about 200-miles from the Galapagos Islands. The islands played a big part in the work of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution
The Ecuadorian Navy reported about 260 ships in international waters, which is just shy of the 188-mile economic zone of the island. Yet, the impact of the Chinese ships cannot be ignored when it can affect the fragile ecosystem, noted the former environment minister Yolanda Kakabadse, reported in The Guardian.
Large Chinese fishing fleets are damaging to the environment and its delicate balance that is crucial to the Galapagos ecosystem, she added.
Last Monday, Kakabadse and Roque Sevilla are looking for ways to keep the islands from the marauding Chinese ships. It lies about 563 miles distance from South America.
Almost annually, the Chinese fishing vessels ravage the seas around the Galápagos, which were declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1978. The fleet is one of the largest seen in recent years.
The government is concerned about how the often-lawless Chinese fleets will be forced to follow all international agreements and not break them willfully.
Many species that migrate each year can be found in the area. The islands are home to a huge stock of shark species like the Hammerhead and whales as well. The Chinese are well known as fond of shark-fin soup, so the area will be a target for marauding fishing vessels.
Kakabadse remarked that there will an extension to the current economic zone, which will be 350-miles instead around the island. Plans to meld it with the Ecuadorian mainland's economic zone that is close to the corridor used by the Sino fleet to pass by and stay in. A priority is keeping them out of the islands at all costs.
Creating a corridor of protected oceanic areas is the priority of Ecuador and other neighbors like Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia. It will act as protection for these oceanic reserves of marine diversity, added Kakabadse.
Ecuadorian President, Lenin Moreno calls the archipelago one of the most abundant fishing areas, and it is a great distributor of marine life. He made a similar statement on Twitter. He also added that the islands are where the most biodiverse flora and fauna can be found, which is why it was recognized by UNESCO as one of the sites on Earth where evolution and natural selection is seen.
The Navy of Ecuador is keeping an eye on the fishing fleet seen last week. Oswaldo Jarrín, defense minister, said that the navy is on alert after the incident in 2017.
In 2017, the Ecuador Navy caught a Chinese vessel (Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999) that poached 300 tons of marine life, mostly sharks, for their fins. They were caught violating the reserve and were no better than pirates.