Illegal fishing in pacific Ocean is a major challenge for South American countries. The decrease of natural resources and the difficulties to control the area call for an international cooperation in order to preserve a future sustainable for local population.
Nothing new for the region
The western coast of South America is one of the biggest fish reserve in the world. Galapagos islands, located 900 km west of continental Ecuador, are an archipelago of volcanic islands well known for their large number of endemic species. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which deserves to be protected. Unfortunately, the entire region ecosystem is threatened by the increasing seafood demand and foreign fishing fleet coming from asia.
But this trend is not new. An article from borgenmagazine reported that between July and August 2020 “a fleet of nearly 300 Chinese vessels logged more than 73,000 hours of fishing efforts just outside of Ecuador’s exclusive economic zone”.
South American initiative to stop the collapse in fish stocks
Facing that problem, Ecuador tried to prohibit the use of transhipment. This activity is a logistic process where fishing vessels meet refrigerated cargo to transfer seafood, fuel or supplies. It gives a serious advantage to the Chinese fleet to stay longer at sea. Ecuador is not the only concern. Chile and Peru are also monitoring those activities. According to brinknews, Chile’National Fishing and Aquaculture Service reported “illegal fishing causes $397 million in loses every year and has asserted that 70% of that country’s fishing stock has collapsed”.
It is why in 2016 and under the Food and Agriculture Organization from the United Nations, 8 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean signed the first global treaty against illegal fishing to bind them against this challenge.
What is next?
On 4 November 2020, four countries (Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia) issued a joint statement condemning illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. This statement developed information-sharing efforts and led countries to joint action against illegal fishers operating in their Economic Exclusive Zone. Reports were sent to the Permanent Commission to the South Pacific (CPPS), a maritime regulatory organization.
Countries called also for a global cooperation. As an example, the French frigate Prairial based in Papeete, French Polynesia, reported to Peru and Chile the presence of 6 Chinese fishing vessels closed to Easter Island while she was transiting for the maritime exercise Unitas in Peru.
Eventually, the challenge of illegal fishing in an area where only a few ships are sailing can be faced only through a global agreement between countries and an international cooperation.