scorecardresearch
Saturday, Sep 24, 2022
Premium

Explained: Why Ecuador was angered by a Chinese flotilla near its waters

Ecuador has officially expressed its “discomfort” to China over the fishing vessels. The United States, which is already opposing China on multiple fronts, has expressed its support for Ecuador.

Galapagos Islands, chinese flotilla indian express The Galapagos Islands host a wide array of aquatic wildlife, including marine iguanas, fur seals, and waved albatrosses. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Ecuador was on alert earlier this week as a flotilla of 260 mostly Chinese fishing vessels– what some called a “floating city”– was sighted near the Galapagos archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, whose acquatic species such as manta rays and sharks have been endangered by commercial fishing.

The Galapagos Islands, spread over almost 60,000 sq km, are a part of Ecuador, and are located in the Pacific Ocean around 1,000 km away from the South American continent. Every year, Ecuador faces the challenge of protecting its natural habitat from Chinese vessels.

Chinese fishing around Galapagos

According to the Madrid-based El País, the flotilla, which also consisted of some Liberia and Panama-flagged vessels, was detected in an international water corridor situated between two areas of Ecuadorian jurisdiction– 200 miles away from both the Galapagos Islands and mainland Ecuador.

Ecuador’s Defence Minister said the situation is repeated every year, when ships reach the outer limit of the archipelago, outside the country’s exclusive zone. Last year, 245 Chinese fishing vessels were sighted in the area where Ecuador’s writ does not extend.

In 2017, when a Chinese ship did enter Ecuador’s waters, its authorities seized it and discovered 300 tonnes of wildlife on board, mostly the critically endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks – a delicacy in China. As per an Economist report, two-thirds of hammerhead shark fins found in Hong Kong markets come from the Galapagos area.

Galapagos Islands, chinese flotilla Ecuador, illegal fishing Ecuador, china fishing international waters, Ecuador President Lenin Moreno, indian express, express explained In 2017, when a Chinese ship did enter Ecuador’s waters, its authorities seized it and discovered 300 tonnes of wildlife on board. (Photo: Galapagos National Park via AP)

According to the Guayaquil-based El Universo, Chinese ships frequent Ecuador’s waters this time of the year when the cold Humboldt Current brings in nutrients that lead to a high congregation of marine species.

Chinese vessels have also run into trouble with other countries in the region. In 2016, Argentina’s coast guard chased and sank a vessel that it claimed had been illegally fishing in the South Atlantic.

Advertisement

Also in Explained | How postal voting in the US works

Diplomatic consequences

While Ecuador’s navy announced that it had sighted the flotilla in international waters on July 16, it was only during this week that the matter escalated to a diplomatic level, when Ecuador officially expressed its “discomfort” to China.

President Lenin Moreno has said that Ecuador will discuss the “threat” with Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Panama – coastal countries of the region that have also been affected in the past.

Advertisement

The United States, which is already opposing China on multiple fronts, expressed its support for Ecuador. On July 29, the US National Security Council tweeted, “The United States stands with President @Lenin and our friends and partners in #Ecuador against any aggression directed toward their economic and environmental sovereignty.”

China on its part has maintained that it is a “responsible fishing nation” having a “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal fishing.

The Galapagos Islands

Renowned worldwide for its unique species, the islands host a wide array of aquatic wildlife, including marine iguanas, fur seals, and waved albatrosses. The giant tortoises found here – ‘Galápagos’ in old Spanish– give the islands its name.

Ecuador made a part of the Galapagos a wildlife sanctuary in 1935, and the sanctuary became the Galapagos National Park in 1959. In 1978, the islands became UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site.

It was here that the British naturalist Charles Darwin made key observations in 1835 that shaped his theory of evolution. Darwin described the islands as a “world in itself”.

📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@ieexplained) and stay updated with the latest

Subscriber Only Stories
Giorgia Meloni could be the first woman to lead Italy. Not all women are ...Premium
UPSC Essentials: Weekly news express with MCQs — EWS to Modi-Putin meetPremium
Swati Ganguly’s Tagore’s University: A History of Visva-Bharati (19...Premium
A cool and breezy Carnatic Summer is helping Chennai reset and rehabPremium
Advertisement

According to an AP report, the warming of oceans due to climate change is expected to further increase fishing pressure around the islands, which would offer a better catch than other regions.

First published on: 02-08-2020 at 11:58:06 pm
Next Story

An Expert Explains: What Delhi’s serological survey tells us, why Covid numbers are falling here

Latest Comment
Post Comment
Read Comments
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement