Faustino Riveiro Disappears in Ecuadorian Waters.  

[Updated 23 May 2024 12:48 GMT] Only seven months after the body of Ghanian fisheries observer Samuel Abayateye was discovered, another fisheries observer has disappeared, 240 nautical miles from San Cristóbal Island in the Galapagos.  


On the night of 15 May 2024, the Panamanian-flagged vessel, the Ría de Aldán, collided with the Venezuelan-flagged Canaima, which was stationary at the time of impact. After the collision, all crew members jumped to safety on board the Ría de Aldán, including seasoned fisheries observer Faustino Riveiro. For reasons unknown, it is reported that he returned to the sinking ship and disappeared.  


Faustino is 52 and a dual national of Spain and Venezuela, holding a degree in biology from a Venezuelan university. Human Rights at Sea International is currently liaising with Faustino’s family members to offer support during this difficult time. 


Warning Signs Ignored

Before the incident occurred, the Canaima’s crew recognized that the Ría de Aldán was sailing dangerously close and attempted to notify the vessel via distress calls and warning lights. It is unclear why those calls went unnoticed. Upon impact, the Ría de Aldán suffered damage to the bow and bulb and is currently being repaired at the Nodosa shipyard in Marín, Spain.  


The Ecuadorian Navy initiated a search upon learning of the incident with help from the Tuna Pesca, a Panamanian-flagged tuna fishing vessel. The search is taking place in waters managed by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, who have since issued a statement regarding Faustino’s disappearance. 


12 Observers (or more) Gone

Faustino Riveiro’s death marks the twelfth reported observer death or disappearance since 2010. In October 2023, Samuel Abayateye’s decapitated body washed ashore after he disappeared from a Ghanian vessel. Before that was Eritara Aati Kaierua, a fisheries observer who was found dead aboard a Taiwanese-flagged vessel, with his death initially being ruled a homicide via blunt force trauma. Neither Samuel’s nor Eritara’s family has received workers compensation or justice in the face of these tragedies.  


Fisheries observers must be protected on the high seas, and their safety, security and wellbeing must be prioritized by international governance bodies. While some safety measures have been adopted, including requirements that observers have access to personal safety devices during a trip, such mandates are not always implemented successfully.  


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*This is an ongoing news story with updates added as more information is received and fact-checked.



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