Chinese poachers caught off Galapagos Islands with thousands of endangered sharks sentenced to prison

Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in China

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 30 August 2017 12:01
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Inhabitants of Santa Cruz Island in Galapagos, Ecuador, took to the streets to protest against illegal fishing around the islands
Inhabitants of Santa Cruz Island in Galapagos, Ecuador, took to the streets to protest against illegal fishing around the islands

Twenty Chinese crewmembers have been sentenced to jail and handed a $5.9m (£4.6m) fine for illegally fishing off the Galapagos Islands, where they were caught by Ecuadorean officials with 6,600 sharks aboard.

The Chinese-flagged ship Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 was apprehended with 300 tonnes of of near-extinct or endangered species, including hammerhead sharks.

Pictures from the Environment Ministry of Ecuador show the sharks with their fins removed. Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in China.

Judge Alexandra Arroyo announced the captain of the ship will serve four years in jail.

The ship was found with 300 tonnes of frozen near-extinct or endangered species, including hammerhead sharks

Three assistants will each serve three years while another 16 crewmembers were given one-year sentences.

Ecuador's foreign ministry said it had sent a formal protest to China over the presence of ships near the Galapagos, which inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

It reported earlier this month that China's ambassador in Quito, Wang Yulin, said his country wanted to take all measures necessary to "put an end to these illicit practices."

View of the Chinese-flagged ship confiscated by the Ecuadorean Navy in the waters of the Galapagos marine reserve

The Galapagos Islands are located about 1000km (620 miles) miles west of Ecuador's Pacific coast.

The Environment Ministry said the Chinese vessel was fishing in the Galapagos' marine reserve near San Cristobal, the easternmost island of the Galapagos archipelago.

The boat will be taken over by Ecuador and the dead animals thrown out to sea, the government said.

Centenarian tortoises and blue-footed boobies inhabit the Galapagos alongside some 18,000 islanders who earn a living from fishing and the tourism industry.

Additional reporting by agencies

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