On the evening of June 25th, 2009, the Ecuadorian Environmental Police, acting on information provided by Sea Shepherd Galapagos, raided a fisherman's house on Santa Cruz Island. The Environmental Police were supported by the Galapagos National Park Service and the K9 Police Unit.
Thanks to the excellent work of the dogs and their guides, the police quickly found 52 large shark fins inside the house. The dried and fresh fins weighed about 30 pounds. They were cut from Black Tip sharks and Galapagos sharks. Additionally, the police confiscated a substantial amount of illegal fishing gear (hooks, nets, and long lines) used in the illegal shark fishing industry.
Although Ecuadorian law permits sharks to be caught as by-catch near the Ecuadorian mainland, fishing for sharks is absolutely prohibited inside the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
The shark fins have an estimated street value of $10,000.
The suspect is under detention. Sea Shepherd will continue to assist in the case to secure a conviction and proper sentence.
Based on a Sea Shepherd investigation, the Environmental Police busted a lobster poacher and confiscated 176 lobsters Wednesday night on Isabela Island. The Ecuadorian Environmental Police raided the house of Jaime Fabian Cedeno Maldonado. Freezers in the back of the house contained over 100 pounds of illegally caught red and green lobsters. The lobsters, valued at approximately $2,500, were scheduled to be smuggled to mainland Ecuador for sale.
In response to the busts, Director of Sea Shepherd Galapagos, Captain Alex Cornelissen said, "This is just the beginning. We intend to end the pillaging of the protected waters of the Galapagos Marine Reserve, a United Nations World Heritage Site. This isn't the wild west where robbers can steal what they want without repercussions."
Galapagos law prohibits possessing or selling the red and green lobsters at this time of year. Lobster fishing season is strictly regulated because their populations have already been greatly diminished from overfishing.
The prosecutor on Isabela Island, Ismael Garcia Morales, issued an arrest warrant for Maldonado. Currently, Maldonado is on the run.
Sea Shepherd is working with the Ecuadorian Environmental Police, the Galapagos National Park Service, and legal advisors to ensure these and other poachers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The fisherman being tried for the illegal shark finning operation under custody
Press Conference on Santa Cruz where the shark fin operation is exposed
Confiscated fish hooks
Officer with the illegally caught lobsters
all photos credit Sea Shepherd Galapagos