Ecuador is on alert due to the presence of its vast fleet of mostly Chinese-flagged fishing vessels in the Galápagos Islands.
The patrols are trying to ensure the fleet – which is made up of around 260 ships – does not enter the fragile eco-system from international waters.
Chinese ships travel to the region every year in search of marine species.
In 2017, a Chinese ship with 300 tons of wildlife was caught in a marine reserve, most of it sharks.
“We are on alert, [conducting] Monitoring, patrolling to avoid an incident such as what happened in 2017, ”Oswaldo Jarin, Ecuador’s Defense Minister, told reporters.
Chinese officials had no immediate comment when contacted by BBC News.
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Former Quito Mayor Roque Sevilla told The Guardian that a “security strategy” for the islands was being worked out.
“Uncontrolled Chinese fishing on the shores of the protected area is ruining Ecuador’s efforts to protect marine life in the Galápagos,” he said.
President Lenin Moreno has said that Ecuador will hold consultations with other Latin American countries to create a joint regional position regarding the “threat” in the Pacific – Colombia, Peru, Chile, Panama and Costa Rica.
“Because of that [natural] Wealth in that region, we face tremendous pressure from the international fishing fleet, ”he was quoted as saying in the El Universe newspaper.
The Galápagos Marine Reserve has a large number of shark species, including endangered whales and hammers.
The Galápagos Islands is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous worldwide for its unique array of plants and wildlife.
Charles Darwin made the remarks important for his theory of development on the islands.