Did You Know There Used to Be Commercial Fishing in the Galapagos?

Jan 23, 2021Blog

These days the waters surrounding the stunning Galapagos Islands are a prime destination for marlin fishing charters. There was a time, however, when commercial fishing boats plied the waters.

In addition to fishing for blue marlin, striped marlin fishing and black marlin fishing, many travel to the Galapagos to fish for bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna and wahoo. It was almost 100 years ago that the tuna that attract anglers today attracted commercial fishing boats from California, Japan and other nations.

The History of Commercial Fishing in the Galapagos Islands

“From the late 1920s, tuna fishing became a feature in the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands, as San Diego-based fishermen shifted their attention to Galapagos, 3,100 miles away, because of restrictions on fishing in Mexican waters and declines in the abundance of Albacore in California waters,” Pete Oxford and Graham Watkins wrote in Galapagos Both Sides of the Coin (Morgansville: Imagine Publishing, 2009).

In an excerpt featured on Galapagos Conservancy website, they go on to say that, “Until 1937, as much as 70% of the tuna arriving in California may have come from waters near the Galapagos Islands, with the main species being Yellow-fin, Big Eye, and Skipjack.”

World War II didn’t completely stop the practice, but it did slow things down. As soon as the war was over, however, the commercial fisheries were back in a big way. Oxford and Watkins estimated that 100,000 tons of tuna – including tuna from the waters of the Galapagos Islands – were taken in 1947 and 1948. “In the 1950s,” they went on to say, “Galapagos researchers remarked on the effects of tuna fishing, reporting that tuna fishermen used to shoot sea lions because of their negative effect on live bait fishing.”

It wasn’t until passage of the Special Law in 1998 that commercial fishing was finally banned from the waters around the Galapagos Islands.

Commercial fishing boats have been banished, but fishing charters for marlin and tuna are allowed and offer some of the best blue marlin fishing, black marlin fishing and striped marlin fishing anywhere.

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