Last month, the Galapagos National Park rangers and Ecuadorian Navy captured six Peruvian fishing vessels illegally fishing within Ecuador’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), 188 miles from the Galapagos Islands. WildAid Marine congratulates the swift actions of these agencies, the Galapagos Governance Council, and Ecuador’s State Attorney General in capturing and prosecuting the 32 crew members.
Upon capture, enforcement authorities discovered that the majority of the species onboard the vessels were endangered and vulnerable sharks species, including recent CITES additions: bentfin devil rays, scalloped hammerheads, and shortfin makos, as well as pelagic thresher sharks and silky sharks.
“We applaud the efforts of our partners in Ecuador to protect our marine species,” said WildAid Marine Program Director Meaghan Brosnan. “As shark populations continue to decline due to illegal wildlife trafficking, the global community needs to invest in providing comprehensive marine protection and reducing overall consumer demand and consumption. That is exactly what Ecuador has done.”
“The Galapagos National Park provides a model for the importance of inter-agency collaboration in capturing and sentencing illegal wildlife trafficking and this recent capture is a major win for MPAs around the world.”
An estimated 73 million sharks are killed each year for the global illegal shark fin trade. Over the past 15 years, WildAid Marine has supported Ecuadorian efforts to stop shark finning in the Galapagos and improve enforcement through our comprehensive marine protection model. WildAid Marine works with Galapagos National Park rangers, the Ecuadorian Navy, and the Galapagos Governance Council to monitor the vast reserve and prevent illegal fishing.
Ecuador has become a regional leader in the protection of its marine environment, taking a strong stand against illegal fishing and passing innovative laws that allow people committing crimes against the environment to be imprisoned for up to three years. Together, WildAid Marine and Ecuador have installed a satellite-based vessel monitoring system to track all boats navigating in and around the reserve and provided comprehensive training and certification for the Galapagos rangers in vessel inspection, safety at sea, and boarding procedures. The implementation of standardized evidence management procedures across enforcement agencies now ensures the swift prosecution of environmental crimes, such as this one.
With the support of the Galapagos Conservation Fund, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, the Paul M. Angell Foundation, and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, WildAid Marine has been working with the Galapagos National Park Service to strengthen enforcement of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $230 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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