The squid game: Uruguayan Navy pursues and captures Chinese jigging boat

Photo: Special Unit to fight illegal fishing, drug dealers, and smuggling of Peru’s Coastguards. By: Ministerio de Defensa del Per煤. Source: Flickr.

Such has been the magnitude of the presence of Chinese ships in the Latin American Pacific that Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia signed an agreement in 2021 to formalize the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor in order to safeguard and protect the environmental integrity of each of these countries. The route that has been traced for these ships ends in the Galapagos Islands and involves repeated passage through Argentina and Chile, especially. These fishing vessels pose a threat to biodiversity, leading to 30 marine species, including hammerhead sharks, to be considered highly endangered. It has been projected that between January and April of this year, around 500 vessels were present in the Argentinean sea, each with the capacity to catch 50 tons of squid per night.聽

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is considered the sixth largest illicit economy in the world. In some cases, such as Mexico, it can represent up to 50% of the fishing demand. Uruguay was subject to this issue, which led to the arrest of the vessel Lu Rong Yuan Yu 606, after a chase that took place on July 4. Eleven tons of illegally caught squid were found hidden inside the vessel, and the vessel was discovered in flagrante delicto, using the characteristic lights for squid fishing. This capture is contradictory, having come from Uruguay. This is because Uruguay has been repeatedly reprimanded for “looking the other way” regarding the presence of Chinese vessels engaged in unregulated fishing. It has also been detected that these vessels tend to turn off their communicators and go off radar when carrying out such illicit activities, and it is estimated that 30% of the vessels showing this disconnection have run aground in the ports of Montevideo.聽聽

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