ECUADOR is upping security around the Galapagos Islands after hundreds of Chinese fishing vessels were spotted near it – threatening to destroy the wildlife around the area.
The Ecuadorian Navy has identified around 260 boats around the protected islands, famous for its array of ecological life.
Patrols have been increased to fend off Chinese ships entering the area, which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Ecuador president Lenin Moreno fired off a series of tweets over the weekend expressing his admiration for the Galapagos Islands and boasting of the manpower protecting it.
He tweeted that it was “one of the richest fishing areas and a hotbed of life for the entire planet.”
He added that former Mayor of Quito, Roque Sevilla, and ex-environment minister Yolanda Kakabadse, along with “more specialists”, would be “responsible for designing the Galapagos protection strategy and respect for its maritime resources.”
This is not the first time Chinese fishing vessels have appeared near the Galapagos, attracted by species like the hammerhead shark – which is in danger of extinction.
A Chinese vessel was captured in the islands Marine Reserve in 2017, carrying 300 tons of wildlife.
The Galapagos Islands are approximately 15,700 miles from the Chinese mainland, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
Defence minister Oswaldo Jarrin said: “We are on alert, conducting surveillance, patrolling to avoid an incident such as what happened in 2017.
“There is a corridor that is international waters, that’s where the fleet is located.”
He added that none had attempted to enter the exclusive economic zone so far.
Volunteer pressure group, the Blue Planet Society, have warned: “We are watching the destruction of the ocean in real time.”
Spokesperson John Hourston told Sky News: “The threat that the industrial Chinese fishing fleet poses to the unique and spectacular marine life of the Galapagos archipelago cannot be overstated.”
He also said the vessels were “sucking the life from this biodiversity jewel”.
“Marine life doesn’t recognise lines on a map. Unless the high seas are given protection, the ocean is in danger of becoming become a lifeless desert.”
The Galapagos Islands are home to an incredible variety of marine wildlife, including giant tortoises, turtles, flamingos and albatrosses.
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