August 14, 2017
On Sunday, Ecuadorian authorities including the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) apprehended the Chinese fishing boat Fu Yuan Leng 999 in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, which was found to be carrying around 300 tons of fish — including thousands of sharks, among them the endangered silky and hammerhead shark species. Twenty crew members were taken into custody and charged with trafficking protected species.
Ecuador’s Minister of Environment Tarsicio Granizo said at a press conference Tuesday that the crew was ordered to be held in custody by a judge on San Cristóbal Island ahead of court proceedings. The accused could face up to three years in prison if found guilty.
“Not necessarily all of the catch came from the Galapagos Marine Reserve, but the fact that it included young sharks, even baby sharks, indicates that they could have been caught inside the Reserve,” the Minister said in a statement, according to reports.
According to the GNPD, an investigation is underway to determine where the sharks were caught and where they were being taken. Walter Bustos, Director of the GNPD, reported that the boat was the largest vessel captured inside the Marine Reserve. Another large seizure took place in 2015 when Ecuadorian police seized 200,000 shark fins that were set to be exported to Asia — where they are considered a delicacy.