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Galapagos Travel: Illegal Fishing Vessel Caught in the Galapagos

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357 dead sharks found on board illegal fishing vessel - photo courtesy of the Galapagos National Park
357 dead sharks found on board illegal fishing vessel - photo courtesy of the Galapagos National Park

Earlier this week the Galapagos National Park and the Ecuadorian Navy seized a boat that was illegally fishing in Galapagos Islands marine reserve -- the boat was longline fishing in the protected waters for sharks and swordfish. Sadly, 357 dead sharks were found on board the boat. The species found were: 286 bigeye thresher, 22 blue sharks, 40 Galapagos sharks, 6 hammerhead sharks, 2 tiger sharks, and 1 mako shark. The AP reports that the boat was seized Tuesday southeast of Genovesa island inside the marine reserve. The 30 fisherman on board are now facing criminal charges.

For me, this news carries with it a mixture of emotions -- frustrating, disheartening and at the same time encouraging that the Galapagos National Park (GNP) and Ecuadorian government seem to be effectively working together to enforce the law. Reports from the GNP state that this is the largest shark seizure in history.

Sharks are hunted around the world for their fins - a delicacy in parts of the world. Shark finning is a graphic process where the fins are cut off the large fish while still alive. The shark is then thrown overboard, back into the ocean where it slowly bleeds to death. Interestingly enough, the sharks found in this case had not been finned, rather where whole fish. Half of the 29 species of sharks that call the Galapagos Marine Reserve home are considered threatened.

When deciding to take a Galapagos trip, there are important choices you can make to support the Galapagos National Park and conservation efforts in islands. Click here to learn more about traveler involvement in Galapagos conservation efforts and the significance of protecting the islands.

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