Hundreds of Chinese fishing boats hunt prey off the Galapagos Islands
For Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, the Galapagos Islands were the key to understanding how life, all life, evolved and developed.
The islands, located hundreds of kilometers from the mainland in the Pacific, are a World Heritage Site.
Not if you are a Chinese fisherman, however. An armada of nearly 300 Chinese ships scoured half the globe to lure the elusive Humboldt squid from the depths of the Pacific Ocean.
According to the New Zealand Herald, The Associated Press and Spanish-speaking broadcaster Univision accompanied the fishing vessel Ocean Warrior this summer on an 18-day trip to observe China’s deep-sea fishing fleet on the high seas off America. from South.
Decades of overfishing and keeping the Chinese fishing fleet at sea is a technical feat made possible by billions in state subsidies, the newspaper said. He said, âBeijing says it has zero tolerance for illegal fishing and points to recent actions such as a temporary moratorium on deep-sea squid fishing as proof of its environmental stewardship. Those who now criticize China including the United States and Europe, for decades raided the oceans themselves, but the sheer size of the Chinese fleet and its recent arrival in the Americas has raised fears that it could deplete marine stocks.
Meanwhile, activists are said to be seeking restrictions on fishing as part of ongoing negotiations on a first-ever high seas treaty, which could boost international cooperation in the traditionally lawless waters that make up nearly half of the planet.
Of the 30 ships. According to the publication, the Associated Press (AP) observed closely, 24 had a history of work abuse charges, previous convictions for illegal fishing or showed signs of possible violation of maritime law. Collectively, these issues underscored how the open ocean around the Americas, where the United States has long dominated and China attempts to influence, has become a magnet for the seafood industry’s worst offenders. .
He said, in particular, 16 vessels sailed with their mandatory safety transponders turned off, broadcast multiple electronic identifiers or transmitted information that did not match their name or location – discrepancies often associated with illegal fishing. , although AP saw no evidence they were engaging in illicit activities.
“Beijing is exporting its overfishing problem to South America,” said Captain Peter Hammarstedt, director of campaigns for Sea Shepherd, a Netherlands-based ocean conservation group that operates nine vessels, including the Ocean Warrior. . “China is primarily responsible for the looting of sharks and tuna in Asia.”
By all accounts, Humboldt’s squid – named after the nutrient-rich current found off the southwest coast of South America – is one of the most abundant marine species. Some scientists believe their numbers may even thrive as the oceans warm and their natural predators – sharks and tuna – are caught.
But biologists say they’ve never faced a threat like China’s industrial fishing boom off South America.
âIt really is like the Old West,â Hammarstedt said. “No one is responsible for the application there.”
For dozens of Chinese ships, the journey to the warm equatorial waters near the Galapagos began months earlier, across South America, where every southern summer, between November and March, hundreds of jiggers flying foreign flags collect countless fin squid in one of the largest unregulated fishing areas in the world.
Between November 2020 and May 2021, a total of 523 predominantly Chinese fishing vessels – 35% more than the previous season – were detected just beyond Argentina’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone limit, according to satellite data analyzed by Windward, a maritime intelligence firm.
Of this amount, 42 percent had turned off their security transponders at least once. Meanwhile, 188 of those same ships showed up near the Galapagos, including 14 Chinese ships that disconnected in both oceans for an average of 34 hours each time.
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