Rich and ecologically diverse, the waters around the Galápagos Islands have attracted local fishermen for centuries. Now these waters face a much larger, more rapacious hunter: China.

The Galápagos are part of Ecuador. And yet each year, growing numbers of Chinese commercial ships, thousands of miles from home, fish here, at times right on the edge of Ecuador’s exclusive economic zone.

The Chinese ships since 2016 have operated off South America virtually all day, all year, moving with the seasons from the coasts of Ecuador to Peru and eventually to Argentina, where they have fished for what amounts collectively to more than 16,000 days already this year.