Save The Galápagos From Destruction
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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site
The Galápagos Islands contain some of the rarest animals on Earth. Help us protect them!
The Galápagos Islands are home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. These ecosystems are protected by a marine reserve that extends to 40 nautical miles from the islands and the Ecuador Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that extends about 160 nautical miles further.
On the edge of that zone is a fleet of Chinese fishing ships that are pulling anything they can from the Pacific Ocean, protected species or not.
The crews aboard these ships are required by maritime law to report their location at least once every four hours, but many have been caught with their Automatic Identification System tracking (AIS) transmitters turned off for 12 to 24 hours at a time while illegally entering the EEZ 1.
China's unofficial fishing fleet is larger than that from any other country in the world, with nearly 17,000 vessels - 1,000 of which use "flags of convenience" and are registered in other countries 2.
At least 340 of these vessels were recorded in the EEZ in August, after 260 were reported in July. Many have been linked to companies with suspected records of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing 3.
Many of the ships are illegal trawlers, banned from fishing in Chinese waters as they damage ecosystems by dragging nets along the seafloor. Others pull long fishing lines laced with hundreds of hooks though the water, catching everything and anything they snag. Still others are supply tankers or cargo vessels used to refuel the fishing boats and help them make room for more fish3.
All of these practices are against the law, which is being flagrantly dismissed. Meanwhile, Chinese government officials maintain the fleet is not breaking any laws4.
According to the Galápagos Conservation Trust, the overfishing of sharks causes irreparable damage to marine ecosystems. Yet this is exactly what fishing vessels around the islands are doing5. The waters surrounding the Islands are home to one of the highest concentration of sharks in the world and they are usually the main target of illegal boats, harvested solely for their fins to fulfill the high demand for shark-fin soup in Asia.
Roque Sevilla, former mayor of Quito, is part of a group working on a "protection strategy" for the islands that involves Ecuador establishing a corridor of marine reserves with neighboring Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia to block fishing boats from exploiting the waters between the Galápagos and South and Central America6. This would protect more than 200,000 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat.
Sign the petition below and tell the President of the Republic of Ecuador to implement this marine reserve corridor and protect the marine wildlife around the Galápagos.
- Yonat Friling, FOX News (30 September 2020), "Chinese fishing fleets caught in Galapagos Islands violating Ecuadorian sovereignty."
- Miren Gutierrez, Alfonso Daniels, Guy Jobbins, Guillermo Gutierrez Almazor and César Montenegro, ODI (June 2020), "China's distant-water fishing fleet: scale, impact and governance."
- Dan Collyns, The Guardian (27 July 2020), "Alarm over discovery of hundreds of Chinese fishing vessels near Galápagos Islands."
- Christopher Torchia, Associated Press (4 September 2020), "Recent data show Chinese fishing fleet still near Galapagos."
- Galapagos Conservation Trust (2019), "Overfishing is a Significant Threat to the Marine Ecosystem in Galapagos."
- Dan Collyns, The Guardian (6 August 2020), "'They just pull up everything!' Chinese fleet raises fears for Galápagos sea life."
Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador Lenín Moreno Garcés,
The Galápagos Islands are surrounded by a fleet of fishing boats that are destroying the vibrant marine ecosystems that have called these islands home for millennia. When these ships are not illegally trawling through the Ecuador Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), they are anchored right at the border. There, they catch rare migratory species like hammerhead sharks, which are slaughtered for shark-fin soup.
The threat from these ships is increasing as cargo tankers and supply vessels join the fleet. Many have been linked to companies with suspected records of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and their numbers are increasing each month.
Unless fishing is banned over critical regions like the Cocos Ridge, which connects the Galápagos Islands to mainland Costa Rica, and the Carnegie Ridge which links the archipelago to Ecuador and continental South America, the fate of these islands and the species that live there will be driven to extinction.
I call on you to adopt the protection strategy designed by former Quito mayor Roque Sevilla and establish a corridor of marine reserves with Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia to block fishing boats from exploiting the waters between the Galápagos and South and Central America.
Take action now, protect more than 200,000 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, and set a precedent in giving native and migratory species a chance to flourish once more.