Industrial fishing compliance with a new marine corridor near the Galapagos Islands

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Easton R White , Alex Hearn, Nicolas Moity, Jorge Ramírez-González, Julia Saltzman, César Viteri-Mejía, Sarah Enright, María José Barragán-Paladines


Examining fishing pressure in under-resourced marine regions still presents a challenge to understanding patterns of fishing pressure. These issues are compounded in areas with complex marine zoning regulations or those that have changed over time. Satellite-based positioning tracking of fishing vessels has helped identify ocean-wide fishing effort distribution and potential encroachments into marine protected areas (MPAs). However, it is less well known what determines fishing at smaller scales, especially within MPAs where fishing may not be allowed. Here, we use satellite-based fishing vessel positioning to study industrial fishing effort around the Galapagos Marine Reserve, inside the Insular Exclusive Economic Zone of Ecuador (I-EEZ). The region has areas that are open to all fishing, closed to fishing (no-take), open to any fishing except with the use of longline, or (within the Galapagos Marine Reserve) only open to artisanal fishing vessels. From 2019-2023, we identified 145 large, industrial (non-artisanal) fishing vessels (910 gross tonnage on average) from 10 countries fishing within the I-EEZ around the Galapagos. However, 87% of the fishing effort was accounted for by Ecuadorian vessels using tuna purse seines and drifting longlines in equal proportions, while the effort of foreign vessels was accounted for by tuna purse seines. In this time window, we observed 64,626 hours of fishing within the I-EEZ with less than 1% of fishing occurring within the Galapagos Marine Reserve. In addition, we studied the effect of a newly declared MPA in 2022, known as the Hermandad Marine Reserve, which created an additional 60,000 square kilometers of protected area. Half of the new marine reserve is fully protected with no extractive activities allowed with the other half banning long line fishing. We documented an 88% decrease in fishing effort within the Hermandad Marine Reserve after its implementation. There appeared to be a small increase in effort leading up to the reserve’s implementation, but no shift in fishing effort distribution elsewhere after. Collectively, our results highlight the wide range of fishing activities within and around an important marine protected area, especially for migratory marine megafauna. Our findings have important implications for other zoned marine areas given the diversity of fishing activity in different regions within our study area.



Agricultural and Resource Economics, Aquaculture and Fisheries Life Sciences, Life Sciences, Marine Biology


industrial fishing, Galapagos, marine protected area, marine reserve, tuna, longlining


Published: 2023-10-30 10:49

Last Updated: 2023-10-30 14:49


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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