Fisheries Sector: Expansion of Galapagos Marine Reserve Would Affect 60% of Tuna Catches Within the EEZ

Expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve would affect 60% of tuna catches within Ecuador’s Exclusive Economic Zone, says the National Fisheries Chamber

August 25, 2020 – 03:07 PM

The National Chamber of Fisheries (CNP) of Ecuador exposed, yesterday, before the Sovereignty, International Relations and Integral Security Commission of the National Assembly of Ecuador that a possible expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (RMG) from 40 to 80 miles would affect “60% of the tuna catches within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Ecuador (EEZ), directly harming the national fishing sector.”

The expansion is analyzed within the framework of increasing the range where species would be protected the way they are in the archipelago, owing to the presence of fleets of foreign boats, mostly Chinese, that fish in the vicinity of Ecuador.

Bruno Leone, president of the CNP, said that the increase in the RMG “would not be a viable solution, in terms of safety,” since these fleets of ships will always seek to be at the limit of the EEZs.

“The fishing sector is the only one affected, as well as the country in its exercise of sovereignty. In addition, the creation of a marine corridor, deviating from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Convemar) or in other instances, cede control of our sovereignty to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) ”, he said.
Although the expansion of the GMR would not have the influence to stop or neutralize fleets like the Chinese, it would have the advantage of establishing a conservation and surveillance corridor between the Galapagos, Gorgona and Malpelo (Colombia), Coiba (Panama) and Cocos (Costa Rica).

These trans-frontier biological corridors are used by migratory species and are intended to contribute to the conservation of all threatened species. There would also be the option of creating a protected area within the EEZ.

Leone indicated that the solutions to this situation point to an institutional strengthening of the fishing sector, as well as agreements through the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) to “require other high seas fisheries to prohibit transshipments, supply vessels and maintain observers on board”.

He requested that the Legislature generate a public policy that promotes the development of the giant squid fishery, since this is the species mostly targeted en masse by foreign fleets.

The CNP stated that Ecuador has a “strict” Aquaculture and Fishing Law that seeks to care for the marine environment and that as a union they constantly carry out actions for sustainable fishing.
Leone pointed out that CNP has implemented fishing improvement projects to reduce impacts on marine ecosystems; the release into the sea of ​​sharks, turtles, mantas and other vulnerable species; the use of FCD (biodegradable fish concentrating devices, CDP in Spanish).  Regarding the operational part, there have been: temporary (72 days) and space closures, observers on board the fleet, prohibition of transshipments in the high seas, prohibition of discards and no fishing associated with dolphins.

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