the largest shark poaching cases, which occured this past July, when yet another vessel was caught inside the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) just last week. The Ecuadorian Navy apprehended the Reina del Cisne, an industrial fishing vessel from Manta, on September 16, 2011. The navy found the industrial fishing vessel six nautical miles inside the GMR.Galapagos hadn’t fully recovered from one of
The Reina del Cisne, together with two small boats, was equipped with longlines, a fishing method prohibited by Galapagos regulations. Upon inspection of the mothership, dozens of dead sharks were found in their holds. The navy ordered the vessel to San Cristobal Island for further inspection, where it has been detained pending the ongoing investigation. The 12 crewmembers have all been placed under arrest.
Sea Shepherd Galapagos participated as an official observer in the inspection of the vessel that took place on September 20. We witnessed the devastating effects of shark fishing when the deck of the Reina del Cisne slowly filled with one dead shark after another. The final number of victims was 81, including 69 thresher sharks, 11 blue sharks, and one silky shark. Some of these sharks were only a few months old, a truly sad sight. Thresher sharks are valued for their long fins, which unfortunately bring in a lot of money in the Asian market. Thresher sharks are also known for having small litters of two to four sharks per birth. This low reproduction rate combined with the extensive overfishing for their fins has resulted in thresher sharks being listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Sea Shepherd is grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in this inspection. We were impressed with the efficiency and excellent cooperation between the various governmental organizations involved in this case. A legal document to record the inspection will be signed next week by all participants, including our Director of Operations, formalizing Sea Shepherd´s observer status of the inspection. The Galapagos National Park Service, the Ecuadorian Navy, Ecuadorian National Police, the science sector represented by Gaias, and of course the Environmental Prosecutor all deserve a big compliment for their role in gathering the evidence in this case.
We hope there will be no further cases this year of industrial vessels entering the GMR without authorization. But if they do, we know that the Galapagos law enforcement agencies are doing a great job. As for the judicial response to this case, we demand local judges to realize that they are delivering justice in a national protected area and a world natural heritage site where sharks are protected. Nevertheless, we will keep monitoring this judicial case to advocate for the proper application of the Ecuadorian green Constitution, the Convention on the World Natural Heritage, the Galapagos special legal regime, and the Penal Code of Ecuador.