Data provided by the region’s shrimp producers’ union, reported in Diario Correo, show that three to five incidents are reported by their members each week – with farmers travelling to and from the islands suffering the majority of the attacks.

Rafael Córdova, spokesman for the Cámara de Productores de Camarón de El Oro, told Diario Correa that: “So far this year there is not a week in which a new assault has not been reported, mainly against shrimp farms on islands. I think [only] 20 percent of these thefts are reported to the authorities.”

According to Córdova, engines are the main targets, due to the fact that they can be taken by one or two people, while stealing shrimp requires a large, well-equipped group.

According to data from the National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA), in the last four years there have been at least 10 violent deaths related to the sector in Ecuador, while more than 80 farmers have been injured in 184 criminal acts. Of these national statistics at least a quarter took place in El Oro province.

In El Oro, according to data provided by the CNA, 120 complaints of aquatic crimes were made in 2020, while 37 occurred in the first four months of this year.

The ongoing banditry prompted the creation of the so-called “Safe Routes” plan in 2018, which was backed by the Ecuadorian Navy. However, some shrimp producers have invested in private security due to doubts about the effectiveness of the initiative.

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