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The Galapagos “in mourning” against the illegal fishing of a Chinese fleet

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – JUAN CEVALLOS – | People from the Ecuadorian island of Santa Cruz to the Galapagos demonstrate against illegal fishing on 14 August 2017, after the discovery of 300 tons of fish, including protected shark species on a Chinese ship

In mourning, the inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands took to the streets Friday to protest against the fishing of species protected by an immense Chinese fleet, which threatens the equilibrium of the marine reserve of this Ecuadorian archipelago, patrimony of the Humanity.

“We are in mourning for three days of mourning and demonstrations since Wednesday to protest against illegal fishing,” said Silvia Zabala, 22, one of the 7,000 residents of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Place of San Cristobal Island, which was on Friday street with dozens of others.

The crew of a Chinese-flagged ship, boarded on August 13 in the Galapagos waters, was reported to have been involved in an environmental attack involving some 300 tons of fishing on board, including endangered species such as hammerhead sharks , In the process of extinction, and silky.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – JUAN CEVALLOS – | People from the Ecuadorian island of Santa Cruz to the Galapagos demonstrate against illegal fishing on 14 August 2017, after the discovery of 300 tons of fish, including protected shark species on a Chinese ship

“There are protected species in Galapagos … We do not yet know if the fisheries have been caught in the marine reserve,” Walter Bustos, director of the Galapagos National Park ( PNG), located 1,000 km from the coast of Ecuador.

“The tonnage and size” of Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999, a ship of 98 m, is the most important case of illegal fishing in the waters of the archipelago, where 17 vessels under the Ecuadorian flag have been Arrested in the last three years for the same offense.

– ‘Respect’ for the Galapagos –

The 20 crew members of Chinese nationality who have been placed in pre-trial detention risk between one and three years’ imprisonment, according to the Ecuadorian penal code, which severely punishes attacks on wild fauna and flora such as fishing Illegal trafficking and trafficking in protected species.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – JUAN CEVALLOS – | “Sharks need our protection”, reads a placard during a demonstration against illegal fishing on the Ecuadorian island of Santa Cruz in Galapagos on August 14, 2017

The authorities have reported the presence of a fleet of 300 Chinese vessels in international waters in front of the Galapagos, to which the boat was boarded.

“This has an irreversible ecological impact and the protection of species is essential for the conservation of our Natural Heritage of Humanity,” added Silvia Zabala, dressed in black as the rest of the protesters who launched slogans like “Down with Illegal fishing! ”

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – JUAN CEVALLOS – | Demonstration against illegal fishing on the Ecuadorian island of Santa Cruz in Galapagos on 14 August 2017, after the discovery of 300 tons of fish, including protected shark species on a Chinese ship

“The world must respect the Galapagos, no longer attempt to harm the flora and fauna of this unique site on the planet,” said this marine biology student.

The Ecuadorian government protested to the Chinese ambassador in Quito, Wang Yulin, and announced that any vessel fishing illegally in the territorial waters of the country would be “immediately seized”.

– ‘Keeping species’ –

But this is not enough to satisfy the inhabitants of the Galapagos. “We are not going to allow the marine wildlife to be targeted. The Galapagos must remain immaculate,” said Edy Becerra, 45, who waved pictures of hammerhead sharks, framed in black.

The inhabitants of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno marched by demanding “respect” for the archipelago, which bears the name of the giant tortoises that live there and has served as a natural laboratory for the English naturalist Charles Darwin to develop his theory of the evolution of species .

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – JUAN CEVALLOS – | Demonstration against illegal fishing on the Ecuadorian island of Santa Cruz in Galapagos on 14 August 2017, after the discovery of 300 tons of fish, including protected shark species on a Chinese ship

“We must not destroy our ecosystems (…) under penalty of destroying our future,” one could read on a sign adorned with drawings of sea wolves.

Another demonstration was organized at the same time Friday in Puerto Ayora, on the neighboring island of Santa Cruz.

The president of the Galapagos Government Council, Lorena Tapia, told the press that “when 300 (Chinese) vessels have been spotted by the Ecuadorian Navy on the high seas, Ecuador can demand that measures be taken for attention and The sustainability of its resources “.

Beijing and Quito are members of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Sea, which according to Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa “obliges both parties to preserve and conserve the species of our oceans, Vulnerable and migratory species “such as sharks.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – JUAN CEVALLOS – | Demonstration against illegal fishing on the Ecuadorian island of Santa Cruz in Galapagos on 14 August 2017

Industrial fishing is prohibited and only artisanal fishing is permitted within 138,000 km2 of the Galapagos, the second marine reserve in the world, with a population of about 27,000.

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