A four-year investigation by The Outlaw Ocean Project looks at human rights and environmental crimes on Chinese fishing ships and in Chinese processing plants, and how they connect to the global seafood market.
This project concentrates on the geography that is the Ecuadorian waters near the Galápagos Islands because it is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and is being jeopardized by overfishing. This project focuses on China because its distant-water fishing fleet is so large, so widely dispersed, and so notoriously brutal. To do this reporting, The Outlaw Ocean Project visited the area’s fishing grounds.
Located in the Pacific Ocean some 620 miles from Ecuador’s mainland coast, the Galápagos Islands, known affectionately by scientists as “Darwin's Paradise,” were the inspiration for the 19th-century naturalist’s theory of natural selection and his seminal book, On The Origin of the Species. Partly because of the convergence of ocean currents, the Galápagos Islands have the highest levels of marine endemism—or species not found anywhere else on Earth—as roughly 20 percent of the islands’ aquatic life can only be found in its waters.
Not only are the Galápagos Islands distinct in their biological diversity, the islands themselves are also spread out, which means they present a much bigger area that a relatively poor nation has to police. This project sought to examine these conditions and the resulting criminality—focusing especially on the Chinese fishing fleet and its activity in the region.