China has the largest ecological footprint in the world. To Beijing’s shame, it now stretches to the pristine waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands on the other side of the planet.
Backed by an industrial-scale fishing fleet, Chinese vessels are threatening the delicate marine ecosystem on the edge of a Unesco world heritage site in the Pacific.
It covers an area of more than 133,000 square kilometers around the archipelago that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Caught in a net of destruction:
- China has the world’s largest deep-water fishing fleet.
- It has nearly 3,000 vessels after depleting fish stocks in its coastal waters.
- A report by Global Fishing Watch this year highlighted the extent of China’s unsustainable maritime operation.
- The number of deep-water squid boats has soared from six to 528 between 1990 and 2019.
- Catches have soared from 5,000 tons to 278,000 tons.
Delve deeper: In the IUU index, China is the worst offender of “illegal, unreported, and unregulated” fishing in the world. It is often involved in dubious overfishing practices, as well as targeting endangered species.
Storm at sea: The situation surrounding the Galapagos has become desperate. The waters around the islands, which lie 1,000 kilometers or more than 621 miles off the coast of Ecuador, are being plundered by a Chinese flotilla of fishing boats.
Plunging the depths: “Our sea can’t handle this pressure anymore. The industrial fleets are razing the stocks, and we are afraid that in the future there will be no more fishery,” Alberto Andrade, who has organized a fishing group known as the Island Front for the Galapagos Marine Reserve, said as reported by The New York Times.
Between the lines: In just one month earlier this year, the Chinese armada off the Galapagos Islands logged a staggering 73,000 hours of fishing, data from Oceana highlighted.
No place to hide: “For a month, the world watched and wondered what China’s enormous fishing fleet was doing off the Galapagos Islands, but now we know,” Marla Valentine, an analyst for Oceana, said as reported by The Guardian media group.
Devastating impact: “Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact of China’s huge fishing fleet on our oceans,” Valentine, a marine biologist, pointed out.
China Factor comment: Ecological hooliganism seems to be ingrained inside China’s ruling Communist Party on land and on the sea.