U.S. Coast Guard Joins Ecuador to Deter Illegal Fishing Off Galapagos

bertholf IUU fishing
Ecuadorian naval vessel LAE Isla San Cristobal approaches Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf on a patrol near the Galapagos (USCG)

Published Sep 4, 2020 1:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf recently completed a joint patrol with the Ecuadorian Navy to detect and deter illegal fishing in the vicinity of the Galapagos Islands, where a large fleet of Chinese fishing vessels has established a presence just outside of Ecuador's EEZ. 

From Aug. 25-29, Bertholf patrolled over 3,000 square nautical miles of Ecuadorian and international waters alongside the Ecuadorian naval vessel LAE Isla San Cristobal, providing persistent presence and surveillance of fishing activity throughout the region.

Information gathered during the operation was shared with Ecuador to strengthen its compliance efforts and boost awareness of potential IUU fishing activity, the Coast Guard said.

“It was a unique opportunity to sail together with the Ecuadorian navy, and we were impressed by their professionalism and dedication to the fight against illegal fishing,” said Capt. Brian Anderson, Bertholf’s commanding officer. “This joint operation demonstrates the effectiveness and importance of our international partnerships.”

IUU fishing is a global security, economic, and environmental threat which undermines national sovereignty. Up to 27 million tons of fish are caught illegally each year, accounting for 20-30 percent of total global annual catch. Economic losses from IUU fishing are believed to exceed $20 billion per year.

“The United States remains committed to the international effort to combat IUU fishing and the illegal exploitation of the ocean’s fish stocks,” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, the Pacific Area commander.  “The U.S. Coast Guard will continue to safeguard our national interests and build lasting international partnerships that promote the rule of law and sovereignty for all nations.”