Illegal fishing is the world’s sixth most lucrative criminal economy with estimated revenues of $15 to 36 billion, according to a 2017 report by Global Financial Integrity.
Ecuador, with its diverse waters, is a target of IUU fishing; the country is a key stop in a larger transnational illegal fishing route that includes Argentina, Chile and Peru.
In July 2020, the Ecuadorean Navy issued a warning that a foreign fishing fleet of about 340 vessels, mostly Chinese-flagged or Chinese-owned, was stationed just outside Ecuador’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around the Galápagos Islands. It was later revealed that at least half of the fleet had switched off their tracking and identification systems – a tactic known as “going dark at sea” commonly used during illegal fishing.
Events such as these endanger marine resources and have marked impacts on fishers’ livelihoods as well as the nation’s food security. Yet, the Ecuadorian people lack the information they need to understand the real threat of illegal fishing – and to advocate for stronger government action to combat it. More in-depth environmental reporting on protected areas in the Galápagos will contribute to a strong evidence base to inform conservation decision making. To meet that need and improve coverage of illegal fishing, Internews, through its INSPIRES project and Earth Journalism Network (EJN), launched a media project that will run from June 2021 to February 2022.
As part of this project, Internews established strategic partnerships with Ecuadorian leading investigative media outlet and Mongabay-partner GK, as well as Universidad San Francisco de Quito’s school of Journalism (COCOA).
Project activities led by EJN included:
- Six journalists awarded grants to produce stories on illegal fishing in Ecuador, with a particular focus on the Galápagos. Seven stories are expected to be published.
- One webinar for journalists to learn more about IUU fishing in Ecuador and existing efforts to combat it.
- Two online sessions for Ecuadorian journalists interested in joining a network of Ecuadorian environmental journalists and science communicators.
- The creation of a network of Ecuadorian environmental journalists and science communicators, which will help strengthen collaborations between local journalists to further promote the importance of investigating and reporting environmental issues and climate change, and the impacts that these issues have on people's lives.
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Banner image: The Ecuadorian naval vessel Isla San Cristobal (LG 30) sails toward the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) while conducting a joint patrol to detect and deter potential illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the vicinity of the Galápagos Islands, Aug. 28, 2020. From Aug. 25-29, Bertholf patrolled more than 3,000 square nautical miles of Ecuadorian and international waters and conducted joint operations with the Isla San Cristobal, providing persistent presence and surveillance of fishing activity throughout the region / Credit: US Coast Guard.