Sea Shepherd Galapagos Update
The new location for the Sea Shepherd office in the Galapagos is perfect. The office overlooks the fish pier and all landings and activities of fishermen on Santa Cruz Island can be observed from the office.
The Presidential decree that legalized "incidental" landings of sharks is up for review at the end of January. It will be evaluated by President Correa and the Minister of the Environment for consideration of renewal. Aside from fishing industry the public and the media are opposed to the renewal. During the last six months 52,217 sharks have been legally reported to a mere 19 inspectors for the entire country. The illegal landings are estimated to be twice that number.
This loophole is destroying the sharks in Ecuadorian waters. The fishermen take the ruling of "incidental" as a green light to catch all the sharks they desire. As long as there is a legal market for shark fins, the sharks will continue to die in large numbers. Most countries in the world are beginning to understand the seriousness of the situation regarding the shark populations. Scientific reports are being published more regularly asking governments to take extra measures to improve the protection of sharks. Ecuador is doing the opposite; whereas they had the protective measures already in place they are now reversing them.
Another disturbing development is the discovery of 53 slain sea lions on the beach on Pinta Island. The Sea Shepherd vessel Yoshka investigated the bodies found on the beach. They were all killed from blunt force trauma to the skull caused by being clubbed. Sea lions have been killed in the Galapagos for the illegal trade in sea lion penises for the Asian market. None of the penises were taken and the rangers speculate that they were interrupted by the patrol before they could remove the sexual organs. Sea Shepherd staff and volunteers in the Galapagos are working closely with Galapagos National Park Director Raquel Molina to continue the investigation to capture the killers.
Sea Shepherd has many constructive ideas for helping to police the Galapagos. We would like to build an Environmental Police training center, headquarters and forensic lab on Santa Cruz Island in partnership with the Ecuadorian National Police. The National Park has allocated the land for the construction. We just need to find sponsorship for the construction costs. We also need to do repairs to the patrol vessel Yoshka and to finance an effective aerial surveillance program.
Sea Shepherd is presently working with the National Police to sponsor the training and care of police dogs that will sniff out smuggled shark fins and sea cucumbers at airports and ports of entry. Sea Shepherd is also in partnership with CIMEI and Animal Balance to spay and neuter and remove for adoption dogs and cats from the islands because of the threat these domestic animals present to iguanas, birds, lava lizards and sea lions.