Natural Heritage of Humanity is being threatened by Chinese ships.
Last week, Ecuador sent warships and war planes to prevent the advance of Chinese fishing vessels lurking Galápagos Islands, one of the largest biodiversity reserves on the planet. Lenin Moreno, the president of Ecuador, established a national alert for the presence of the Chinese fleet, which he described as «predatory» (1).
Darwin Jarrín Cisneros, Commander of the Ecuadorian Navy, told the local press that this is «a fleet that predates on the seas, a group of Chinese fishing vessels. We have formed task forces composed of missile corvettes, auxiliary vessels, submarines, coast guard boats, fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft and Marine Corps components» (2). He also explained that they are working to address the issue at the next meeting of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (Convemar).
In August 2017, Ecuador captured the Chinese factory ship Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Galápagos with 300 tons of protected and endangered species (3).
The Chinese fishing fleet that arrived at this reserve is supplied at the Port of Montevideo.
Satellite images show that the Chinese fishing vessel Zhou Yu 6 carried out destructive, unreported and unregulated fishing on the edge of the Galapagos Islands, outside the EEZ of Peru and Argentina. According to information from the National Ports Administration (ANP), between May and July 2018, this Chinese-flagged ship was in our port.
The same thing happens with the Xin Ji Li 15 vessel, which operated on the edge of the EEZ of Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Ecuador. According to the ANP, it docked in Montevideo in 2016, and according to satellite positioning data, also did in January last year.
Along with the Zhou Yu 6 and the Xin Ji Li 15, there are more than 200 Chinese vessels which operate on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in South America and which use Montevideo as their logistical base. This is mainly why the Port of Montevideo has been listed as the second worldwide to receive transshipment fishing suspected of coming from Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (4).
Chinese fishing fleets generate environmental, economic and military conflicts in South America: they predate the marine environment, destroy employment and the local fishing industry, and generate the mobilization of armed forces, which in many cases have led to shootings with cannons towards invasive fishing vessels.
We consider the construction of a Chinese fishing megaport in Uruguay to be harmful to our country’s international reputation. Furthermore, we believe that it could hinder diplomatic relations with the region by associating us with the destructive fishing and human rights abuses that occur in those vessels.
The following satellite images show the path the fishing vessels supplied in Montevideo follow, operating at the border of the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, as well as in Perú, Brazil and Argentina: