Tuna Clipper Sinks Venezuelan Trawler off the Galapagos

Ria de Aldan (Wofco file image)

Published May 21, 2024 3:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

A biologist has gone missing after a tuna clipper hit and sank a fishing trawler off the coast of the Galapagos, according to local media. 

On the night of May 15, the 53-year-old trawler Canaima was operating about 240 miles off the coast of San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands. The Ecuadorian-owned tuna boat Ria de Aldan approached from astern, and by the time Canaima attempted to warn her, collision was unavoidable. Ria de Aldan struck the stern of the Canaima, causing the vessel to rapidly sink. The crew abandoned ship onto a tender and escaped. 

24 of the 25 crewmembers aboard Canaima were rescued from the water, but one individual - Venezuelan biologist Faustino Riviero, 53 - has gone missing. The Ecuadorian Navy has dispatched a coast guard vessel to search the scene, according to El Correo Gallego, and has put out a request to merchant shipping to ask for assistance. 

Alfredo Fernández, a cousin of Riviero, recounted the crew's last sighting of the biologist. 

"At night they saw how it was heading towards them,” he explained to Faro de Vigo."hey collided and those from the Canaima jumped onto the auxiliary boat. They saw my cousin jump, but just as they saw him jump, they also saw him go back on board [the Canaima], but they don't know why."

Ria de Aldan sustained damage to her bulbous bow - captured on video - but was otherwise unharmed.