Momentum gains as more countries take action to promote fisheries transparency
Guayaquil, Ecuador – Ecuador has taken bold action to bolster ocean governance by joining the Global Fishing Watch platform, facilitating enhanced monitoring of the 1,200 vessels that make up Ecuador’s industrial and small-scale fishing fleets. This momentous decision will help increase accountability for vessels throughout the region and represents a common effort to achieve transparency across the global ocean.
The decision was announced earlier today by Rear Admiral Lenin Sánchez of the Ecuadorian Navy, National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces. It builds on Congressional approval of Ecuador’s revised fisheries and aquaculture law, which was officially published in April and aims to modernize the fishing and aquaculture sector according to international regulations. This declaration of transparency strengthens Ecuador’s commitment to address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing occurring in its waters and high seas of interest, and empowers the Navy to step forward as a Pacific ally when it comes to safeguarding the region against overfishing and other illicit activity taking place on the ocean.
The newly-available vessel monitoring system data will complement the already-existing automatic information system, or AIS, data that appears on Global Fishing Watch’s current platform. This addition will strengthen vessel compliance, support the seafood industry and aid in the sustainable use of Ecuador’s marine resources.
“We commend Ecuador’s desire to enhance their existing fisheries monitoring systems and strengthen compliance in their waters,” said Tony Long, former Naval Officer and CEO of Global Fishing Watch. “By bringing their vessel tracking data into the public realm, Ecuador has taken a significant step forward in making transparency in fisheries a standard practice and should be recognized for its will on implementing sound fisheries management.”
The collaboration between the Ecuadorian Navy and Global Fishing Watch will focus on the offshore border of Ecuador’s national waters, an area where international fleets compete for the best access to squid, tuna, pelagics and other high-value exports. The Ecuadorian Navy has been a key actor in supporting the implementation of sound fisheries management policies that will assure the sustainability of the marine resources and ecosystems for the future of the country and the region.
“The information provided by Global Fishing Watch constitutes a valuable technical instrument for the exercise of Ecuador’s Maritime Authority,” said Rear Admiral Sánchez, Director of the National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces. “In a coordinated and permanent manner with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investment and Fisheries, we aim to ensure State policies and regional guidelines are conceived and implemented in the immediate future to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, a reprehensible activity that puts the survival of living resources of the sea at serious risk and therefore exposes humanity to hunger.”
Through this partnership, analysts will now be able to detect the presence of noncompliant vessels using satellite-based synthetic aperture radar, machine learning, big data, and optical sensors to better understand what kind of activity is taking place. The collaboration will build on efforts already underway in the region, with a commitment from Global Fishing Watch to provide Ecuador with customized reports of fishing activity in its national waters and an indication of vessels that appear at risk of noncompliance with relevant regulations.
Today’s announcement will also support Ecuador’s efforts to implement the Port State Measures Agreement – an international treaty aimed to curb illegal fishing by administering tighter port controls on foreign-flagged vessels entering port — which was adopted in 2009 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and ratified by Ecuador in 2019. Ecuador has demonstrated a growing concern over illegal fishing the last several months and is committed to implementing measures that will help prevent, deter, and eliminate this activity in their waters.
“International collaboration and improved transparency is critical to the governance and security of our global ocean,” added Tony Long. “ We hope others will follow in Ecuador’s lead.”
Ecuador is a coastal country situated in the northwest corner of South America. It represents the largest tuna fishing nation in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, bringing in over 40 percent of the total catch in the region in 2019. Today’s announcement follows regional leadership demonstrated by Costa Rica, Chile, Panama, and Peru to promote accountability within the commercial fishing industry and increase the level of scrutiny on vessels which may be involved in illicit activities across the Pacific.
Transparency in Ecuador’s fishing activities will amplify the potential of Global Fishing Watch’s monitoring capabilities, enriching the support provided with marine conservation partners such as the Galapagos National Park, Oceans 5, WildAid and Pacifico Foundation.
For further information:
Kimberly Vosburgh, Communications and Outreach
Global Fishing Watch
Global Fishing Watch (GFW) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the sustainability of our oceans through increased transparency. By harnessing cutting edge technology, our mapping platform allows anyone to view or download data and investigate global fishing activity in near real-time, for free. GFW was founded in 2015 through a collaboration between Oceana, SkyTruth and Google. Our work is made possible thanks to the support of our funding partners and technology and data providers.