Although Ecuador has a fleet that can be described as artisanal, with 20,000 fishing vessels, it is still the largest tuna fleet in the region. Ecuador is a major exporter of fish products to the European Union, especially prawns and tuna. For several years, Quito has been suspected of not having a system to prevent illegal fishing and has been given a yellow card by the European Commission. In order to avoid losing the European market, Ecuador adopted in 2020 a law for the preservation of fisheries resources, accompanied by heavy penalties against offenders. It was to observe the proper application of this legislation that Pierre Karleskind, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Fisheries (PECH), led a field mission, Renew Europe being particularly vigilant in the fight against illegal fishing. However, this mission is carried out in a spirit of cooperation. Highly indebted to Beijing, and while the Chinese fleet is the cause of numerous acts of illegal fishing in Ecuadorian waters, Quito is indeed seeking to rebalance its international relations and get closer to the EU.
Pierre KARLESKIND (L'Europe ensemble, France), President of PECH, said: “The objective this week was to observe the efforts that have been made in terms of controls and the fight against illegal fishing. A lot has been done. The ongoing dialogue has ensure that we import products that are not from illegal fishing. Illegal fishing leads to unfair competition for our fleets and serious damage to the environment."
Izaskun BILBAO BARANDICA (PNV, Spain), Renew Europe coordinator within PECH and vice-president of the delegation for relations with the countries of the Andean Community, which took part in this parliamentary mission, added: "This mission has served to confirm two realities. The first one is that the card system is effective in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Access to a market such as the European’s one, which only accepts environmentally and socially sustainable production, is a good argument and stimulus for eradicating bad fishing practices. The progress we have seen here is due to this fact. The second one is that the Union and its industry are a key player in the global fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and the protection of marine resources. A reality that desserves more recognition than it gets."