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The LA Times’ Susanne Rust reported on a brewing controversy surrounding China’s notorious “distant water” fishing fleet — it’s 17,000 vessels strong and has conducted dubious fishing operations off the coasts of West Africa, Argentina, and Japan. This past summer, a fleet of Chinese fishing boats was spotted in the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands, which are a protected marine reserve. Due to COVID-19, the local tour boats and fishing vessels that acted as the unofficial guardians of the islands have been kept on land, leaving an opening for illegal fishing operations to take hold. More than 300 Chinese vessels, many equipped to hold 1,000 tons of fish, fished right along the border of the Galapagos Island Reserve, waiting to ambush migrating fish populations right on the line.
Why this Matters: The Galapagos Islands hold a bounty of flora and fauna; 20% of the species found in the Galapagos aren’t found anywhere else in the world. Illegal fishing in the region is anything but new, but in late August 2020, the number of illegal fishing vessels exploded. With China set to host the UN Conference on Biodiversity next year and holding the Chairmanship of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, it’s time to call them on their lawless fishing fleet.
The Galapagos Islands’ economy is 90% dependent on tourism and, due to COVID-19, that market has plummeted. Tour boats, which highlight the beauty of the islands’ ecosystem and emphasize conservation, have been docked for months, and restaurants and shops in residential areas have been closed. Before COVID-19, the islands saw up to 1,000 daily visitors, and although the onslaught of tourists can often threaten wildlife, the loss of income from the tourist economy leaves few resources with which to protect that wildlife. Fiddi Angermeyer, a local tour operator and business owner, expressed worry, “if there are no tourists, there is no park. And if there’s no park, there are no tourists.”
It’s about time we had a conversation about the birds and the bees…or in this case, the otters and the seagrass. A new study found that the ecological relationship between sea otters and the seagrass fields where they make their home is spurring the rapid reproduction of the plants. Otters dig up about 5% of […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor An abandoned oil tanker off the coast of Yemen is deteriorating rapidly, and experts say that a hull breach could have far-reaching environmental impacts and threaten millions of people’s access to food and water supplies. The FSO SAFER tanker holds 1.1 million barrels of oil — more than four […]
Last weekend, an estimated 144,000 gallons of heavy crude oil leaked from an underwater pipeline in California, making for one of the largest spills in recent state history. While federal regulators have enacted protections for some federal lands and waters, they’re still a long way from reaching President Biden’s 30×30 goal. But the longer they […]
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