Ecuador will spend about $18 million to improve satellite and naval surveillance of fishing operations in its Pacific Ocean territory. The expenditure was announced after the European Union (EU) warned Ecuador that it lacked adequate controls to stop illegal fishing.
Minister of Production and Foreign Trade, Iván Ontaneda, reported recently that, “Additional resources are needed to protect the over $1.6 billion of export and 200,000 jobs created by the fishing sector,” he said.
“The new Fisheries Law, which is being processed by the National Assembly and will replace the existing law that dates back to 1974 and does not contain the tools for Fight against illegal fishing.”
“The new provision in the Fisheries Law specifically sanctions regimes caught fishing illegally,” said Ontaneda. He added that the improvement of technology is part of a roadmap coordinated with the private sector and part of a plan that will that includes visits by European delegates to confirm the execution of the commitments.
Bruno Leone, president of the National Chamber of Fisheries, said he sees the problem as an opportunity for the country to adopt a new, more effective regulatory framework to protect the country’s fishing assets and to comply with international standards. Ontaneda calculated that between March and May 2020 they will receive an EU visit, which will verify the plan’s progress.
Since 2016, Ecuador has intercepted three foreign shipping fleets –two Chinese and one Japanese — that encroached in the protected waters around the Galapagos Islands and admits that more surveillance is needed.
Ecuador is the world’s second-largest producer and exporter of tuna with more than $1 billion in sales annually.