I’m in the conference room of the Galapagos Science Center overlooking the harbor of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the island of San Cristobal in the Galapagos. There is a lot of commotion around a new addition to the habors fishing fleet: a rundown small ship from Manta (on the central coast of Ecuador) that was apprehended yesterday by the Galapagos National Park and the Ecuadorian Navy.
According to the GNP and verified by an employee of the GSC, 357 sharks were found on the ship: 286 bigeye thresher, 22 blue sharks, 40 Galapagos sharks, 6 hammerhead sharks, 2 tiger sharks, and 1 mako shark (primarily pelagic species).
The boat was using longlining (illegal in the GNP) to catch sharks and swordfish near the small island of Genovesa. The 30 fisherman apprehended are in jail awaiting a hearing.
Surprisingly, whole (but gutted) bodies of the sharks were on board, ie, they were not finned at sea. And Ironically, this happened on the same day as the New York Times ran a great op-ed about the critical importance of top predators.
According to the GNP, this is the largest shark seizure in the park’s history. As sad as it is, I am really encouraged that the park now has the capacity to detect and apprehend illegal fishers in the marine reserve. Kudos to them.