Illegal Shark Fishing Continues in Galapagos

October 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

From El Commercial

Illegal shark fishing continues in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The draft boat operations within the marine reserve is against the law because Sharks are considered a protected species.

Despite the seriousness of these actions, which are considered environmental crimes, and therefore punishable by imprisonment for those involved, the prosecution authorities, the National Park Service and several environmental organizations are very concerned because the judges have released all detainees.

The authorities of Marine Resources and the Office of Environment conducted an operation in the bay and located 225 shark fins. The prosecutor of the Environment, Jose Cevallos, reported that along with the Police authorities, Navy and National Park (PNG) are carried out constant surveillance operations and intelligence to locate the fishing boats illegally entering the Reserve.  However, these criminal operations could be increased, warned Cevallos, encouraged by the performance concessive and accomplice of some judges.

Since last July have been located and captured two ships of industrial fishing in the reserve: the Mary Fer I and six fibers, discovered on July 18.  In that boat were transported 357 sharks, 20 miles inside the reserve. 22 crew members were also captured.

On September 17, Navy personnel stopped fishing the Reina del Cisne and two fibers, which were fishing 34 miles from Punta Pitt on San Cristobal Island (6 miles within the Reserve).  Given the blatant crime, the prosecutor acted Cevallos office, in coordination with the park authorities, filing appropriate actions before Judge Criminal Guarantees First, Jorge Cabrera Monserrate, who initially ordered the imprisonment of 12 people.

Unexpectedly, the judge on Tuesday declared the nullity of this trial, holding that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the process that should be handled in Superior Court in Guayaquil.

“I just made the judge is an outrage, because it is failing against the provisions of the Special Law for Galapagos, which empowers judges to judge the islands environmental crimes, even if there is a Superior Court.  Is setting a disastrous precedent, “said Carlos Zapata, Conservation Sector, Science and Education of Galapagos.

Once declared invalid, the judge lifted the arrest warrants and the seizure of the ship, and authorized their departure.

It is not the first time that judges everything thrown into contrast the combined work of the authorities.  Edwin Naula, head of PNG, said the judges in the Galapagos have shown what is a constant in the whole country, not just failure to apply, according to law. One of the most outrageous, he added, is that of Mary Fer, the judge changed the precautionary measures by releasing the 20 involved, and only two remain in the Galapagos with the obligation to appear in court weekly.  “In practice we have a process without charge, resulting in impunity and the consequent stimulus to this illegal activity.”

Judicial decisions have also raised alarm among representatives of international foundations.  Alex Cornelissen, director of Sea Shepherd, did not hide his anger over the latest court decisions, “do not help strengthen the culture of single-species conservation in the Galapagos Islands.”  Read the Sea Shepherd plea regarding Lady Justice has abandoned Galapagos

Last August, the Conservation Sector, Science and Education sent an official letter asking the Judicial Council to take action on the matter and monitor the performance of judges.  The letter has not been answered yet.

A judicial Recourse

The Conservation Sector, Science and Education submitted an amicus curiae on 26 September before the Environmental Office and the First Court of Criminal Guarantees Galapagos. This resource is part of the monitoring vessel to the case of Mary Fer I.

This resource is a form of citizen participation, which allows the company to provide specialized legal advice and relevant information about a specific case and inform the judge about environmental issues.


65 Sharks Found Aboard Boat in Galapagos

September 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

Just months after the Mary Fer I was tragically caught illegally shark fishing within the Galapagos Marine Reserve, another boat the Reina del Cisne from the same home port of Manta was caught poaching in the Galapagos Islands.  When park officials inspected the boat the found 65 sharks on baord.

The Reina del Cisne was captured with 2 smaller fibrer glass 12 people on board (5 of whom were not listed on the paperwork with the port captain when departing Manta).  The Reina del Cisne and crew were taken to the island of San Cristobal for legal action.

Tomorrow Begins Lobster Season in Galapagos

September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Tuesday begins lobster season in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.  During the next 120 days fisherman are able to catch and sell lobster with quotas of  22 tons of red tail lobster and 6 tons of green tail lobsters.  This time each year the Galapagos National Park allows the capture of lobster in within the Galapagos Marine Reserve.  It is also the time of year when many local restaurants and Galapagos Cruises will feature lobster on their menu.

Fisherman are resticted to lobsters between 6 and 26 inches in length measuring from their head to their tail. Additionally they do not allow the use of spears, guns or traps within the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

As with all fishing around the Galapagos Islands anglers wishing to fish during their visit must be registered with the Galapagos National Park Service and have a permit to fish with an artisantal fisherman licensed to fish within the Galapagos Marine Reserve on a boat with an original permit for fishing issued by the Galapagos National Park and all current paperwork with the maritime authorities.

The artisinal fishing program in Galapagos offers fisherman the opportunity to continue a tranditions passed down through generations as well as benefit from the tourist industry while regulation the catch and monitoring fishing levels to protect the marine life in the area.


Whale Shark Satalite Tagging

July 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Photo by Jonathan Green

The Galapagos marine reserve is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and home to a large population of incredibly diverse marine life, among them the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which “we know little or nothing,” said Fernando Ortiz, Galapagos Program Coordinator for the Galapagos Whale Shark Project and coordinator of Conservation Internationa .  From 6 to July 18 they entered the waters off Darwin Island for satellite tagging of 14 whale sharks.

Discovery Process  “When diving I had the opportunity to see three or four of these sharks, mostly females, but did not know many things: if they came to the Galapagos only to mate or were specific to the islands? “says Ortiz.

Now with the technology are receiving information on a satellite so far have determined that the vast majority sense are moving west-northwest and move quickly. They hope to continue receiving signals over the next five months.

The Galapagos Whale Shark Project has scheduled two new field trips this year: one in late August and again in late October. The initiative has the support of Conservation International, Galapagos National Park Foundation Charles Darwin, and George Blake Kimberly Rapier Charitable Lead Trust Unit, the Peter Klimbley shark expert at the University of California and the naturalist and photographer Jonathan Green.

“We made it to Darwin’s Arch and back… despite high temperatures the Whale Sharks were present in almost every dive. Each day new sightings, they were passing through on their way to somewhere, only time will tell. We tagged 14 sharks, 13 females and a juvenile male. The expedition succeeded beyond our greatest expectations!”

Although little is known about the whale shark, if there is certainty that a species threatened by human activities such as catch for food in Indonesia, India and Thailand, and when they fall into the nets. The data  from June to November visiting the islands of Darwin and Wolf.

Follow the Galapagos Whale Shark Project on Facebook

Illegal Fishing Boat Captured Yesterday in Galapagos

July 19, 2011 § 3 Comments

Yesterday afternoon at 3:30 pm the Galapagos National Park with the support of the Navy authorities captured the boat B / P Fer Mary while conducting illegal  fishing operations within the Galapagos Marine Reserve. This boat has its port of registry in the city of Manta.  The authorities encountered the boat fishing on the south-east side of Genovesa Island.

The boat was fishing using three small fiberglass boats.  Upon inspection, the authorities discovered each of the smaller boats had been engaged in longline fishing a practice banned in Galapagos.  Longline fishing is prone to incidental catches of sea turtles, birds, sea lions and sharks in an area of conservation it is viewed as a horrific practice.

On board the Mary Fer I the authorities reported finding 25 sharks, 5 albacore and 2 swordfish. The contents and boat will be brought to the nearest port, in this case, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the island of San Cristobal.

According to the documentations the Mary Fer I departed Manta on July 8 with permits for 8 people on board, but when the authorities captured the boat there were 30 people aboard including two minors.

UPDATE 7/20/2011… Reports issued today reported the Mary Fer I had caught much more than originally reported.  A park official verified onboard were  357 sharks – 286 bigeye thresher, 22 blue sharks, 40 Galapagos sharks, 6 hammerhead sharks, 2 tiger sharks, and 1 mako shark-primarily pelagic species.  The entire bodies of the sharks were found on board which is unusual as normally these “finning” operations cut the fins off dispose of the rest of the shark at sea.

UPDATE: 7/21/2001…Courtesy of the Galapagos National Park

Once the B / P RES MARY I and 6 fiber fishing with him were caught by the boat Sea Ranger 02, provision of the Galapagos National Park, with the support of the Navy, south – east of Genovesa Island, 20 miles within the RMG, yesterday afternoon finally arrived in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal Island).

The boat was originally captured with three companions fibers, but at night the day of capture, Monday July 18, came to him three extra strands, and poor conditions hampered navigation of the sea to San Cristobal, so arrived on the island at 14h00 on Tuesday, July 19.

Fibers accompanying the RES MARY I are: F / M Forever Virgin of Monserrate, registration B-0407141, F / M Narcisa de Jesus-registered B-0406624, F / M Keyla Yeannely-registered B-0403540, F / M Heyder Josue, registration B-0408068, F / M New Destination II-registered B-0405287 and F / M Joseph enrollment Always B-0405971.

After the naval authorities, police and prosecutors conducted the proceedings that concern them in cases like these, at about 17H30 review initiated from the cellars of the boat, to identify the type of fishing that was in them.

The review of the contents of the hold ended at noon today, reporting a total of 357 sharks, 11 gold, 9 albacore and swordfish 1. The shark species identified are: 286 sharks (Alopias superciliosus), 22 blue sharks (Prionace glauca), 40 Galapagos sharks (Carcharinus galapaguensis) 6 hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) 2 tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvieri), 1 shark mako (Isurus oxirrinchus).

The Galapagos National Park Service already started the administrative process to determine the respective corresponding penalty and destination have the boats, fishing gear and is retained in this operation. Additionally, the prosecution took the necessary measures so that this crime is prosecuted.

In the Galapagos Marine Reserve is prohibited to capture, marketing and movement of sharks.

Ocean life on the brink of mass extinctions: study

June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

from Reuters

Life in the oceans is at imminent risk of the worst spate of extinctions in millions of years due to threats such as climate change and over-fishing, a study showed on Tuesday.

Time was running short to counter hazards such as a collapse of coral reefs or a spread of low-oxygen “dead zones,” according to the study led by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO).

“We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation,” according to the study by 27 experts to be presented to the United Nations.

“Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effects of climate change, over-exploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the next globally significant extinction event in the ocean,” it said.

Scientists list five mass extinctions over 600 million years — most recently when the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago, apparently after an asteroid struck. Among others, the Permian period abruptly ended 250 million years ago.

“The findings are shocking,” Alex Rogers, scientific director of IPSO, wrote of the conclusions from a 2011 workshop of ocean experts staged by IPSO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at Oxford University.

Fish are the main source of protein for a fifth of the world’s population and the seas cycle oxygen and help absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activities.


Jelle Bijma, of the Alfred Wegener Institute, said the seas faced a “deadly trio” of threats of higher temperatures, acidification and lack of oxygen, known as anoxia, that had featured in several past mass extinctions.

A build-up of carbon dioxide, blamed by the U.N. panel of climate scientists on human use of fossil fuels, is heating the planet. Absorbed into the oceans, it causes acidification, while run-off of fertilizers and pollution stokes anoxia.

“From a geological point of view, mass extinctions happen overnight, but on human timescales we may not realize that we are in the middle of such an event,” Bijma wrote.

The study said that over-fishing is the easiest for governments to reverse — countering global warming means a shift from fossil fuels, for instance, toward cleaner energies such as wind and solar power.

“Unlike climate change, it can be directly, immediately and effectively tackled by policy change,” said William Cheung of the University of East Anglia.

“Over-fishing is now estimated to account for over 60 percent of the known local and global extinction of marine fishes,” he wrote.

Among examples of over-fishing are the Chinese bahaba that can grow 2 meters long. Prices per kilo (2.2 lbs) for its swim bladder — meant to have medicinal properties — have risen from a few dollars in the 1930s to $20,000-$70,000.

(Editing by Jan Harvey)

Smuggling attempt a marine iguana wrapped in newspaper

Like the rest of the world the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands are under constant threat from illegal fishing.  Thankfully Sea Shepherd has been helping the Galapagos National Park patrol the waters of the marine reserve since 2000.  Sea Shepherd also provides the K-9 sniffer unit that you may have seen at the airport.

Sea Shepherds efforts have contributed the stopping many international boats who have entered the Galapagos to illegally fish as well as those individuals who have been smuggling marine life from the islands.  We would like to  applaud Sea Shepherd for their efforts in continuing to protect the area and helping to keep Galapagos Diving one of the best dive experiences in the world.

Galapagos Aggressor Announces New Itinerary

February 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Galapagso AggressorIn November the Galapagos National Park announced several new regulations and the enforcement of other rules that had been previously neglected. One of the biggest changes in the new regulations effects those diving in the Galapagos.

The waters surrounding the Galapagos is the second largest marine reserve and in the world.  For many travelers Galapagos Diving is the highlight of their trip. Approximately 4 years ago the National Park ruled that boats that offered naturalist cruises were no longer permitted to offer diving as part of their cruise. In November the National Park announced that boats offering Galapagos Diving Cruises are no longer permitted to offer land visits outside of San Cristobal and Santa Cruz.

To honor the National Parks new regulations the Galapagos Aggressor yachts have announced a new itinerary effective February 1, 2011. The new itinerary is as follows:

AM: Arrival to San Cristobal – lunch and briefing
PM: Check out dive at Isla Lobos and welcome cocktail

AM: Bartolome
PM: Two dives at Cousin Rocks

AM: Two dives at Wolf
PM: Two dives at Wolf

AM: Two dives at Darwin
PM: Two dives at Darwin

AM: Two dives at Darwin (Jun-Dec)
PM: One dive at Wolf (Jun-Dec)

AM: Two dives at Roca Redonda (Jan-May)
PM: Two dives at Punta Vicente Roca (Jan-May)

AM: Two dives at Roca Redonda (Jun-Dec)
PM: Two dives at Punta Vicente Roca (Jan-May)

AM: Two dives at Cabo Marshall (Jan-May)
PM: Two dives at Cabo Marshall (Jan-May)

AM: Santa Cruz Highlands
PM: Puerto Ayora – Visit to Charles Darwin Research Station

AM: Check out and departure from San Cristobal

The 2011 itinerary adds diving at Roca Redonda and Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela Island), and in 2012 will add Pinta Island.

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