Breaking news: 357 dead sharks found on illegal fishing vessel in Galapagos National Park

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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.


20 Responses to “Breaking news: 357 dead sharks found on illegal fishing vessel in Galapagos National Park”

  1. Abel Valdivia says:

    Who was the buyer for those poor creatures, is this a new thing in Galapagos? 🙁

  2. John Bruno says:

    Don’t know who the buyer was or would have been. The fact that they were not just finned makes me think the meat would have been consumed locally (on the mainland). It isn’t a new thing-its a growing problem, luckily this time the GNP caught the boat, albeit after a lot of damage was done. Regardless, I really applaud the park and the navy for catching the boat and for how they have handled the situation. Really impressive professionalism.

    • Teresa says:

      I am glad there are people like you who look out for these magnificent creatures.Everyone needs to realize that they are the top predators of our oceans and any irradication would mess up the ecosystem .

  3. Janet says:

    Sad, sad, news…
    Please keep us posted on this story!!!!

  4. […] Bruno, a University of North Carolina marine biologist teaching at the Galapagos Science Center, wrote on his blog that the park had declared it the largest shark seizure in its […]

  5. Keith says:

    When are these type of people understand they are destroying the ocean? Idiots!!!!

  6. Leah says:

    Punishment… they should be reduced to shark bait!

  7. christina borges says:

    as unfair it is for these young sharks now maybe some justice can be done and it won’t be in vain.

  8. Wade says:

    Wonderful work by the ones who caught the illegal fishermen! The next ones caught should be the ones who encourage the fishing by buying the catch.

  9. Philip says:

    In the end 99% of shark hunting goes back to the Chinese for shark fin soup. Now that they have fished out most sharks in Asia, they are going after the new world. This is why legislation and enforcement are so important in North and South America.

  10. Deborah says:

    Lest I seem overly zealous rather than take these men and dump them in the middle of shark feeding frezy perhaps making them go through a virtual experience of what it would feel like to be hunted and attacked by sharks, but then I fear they would hate them more and make them that more hungry for the $$ that shark meat and body parts provide.
    Perhaps education on the environmental role of sharks in the ocean-I would like to ad had it not been in the Galapago’s I wonder if they would have gotten such a catch-look at how the whales are returning to the Cape in Massachusetts and even Long Island sound.
    When fish and mammals go for a time without being attacked wouldn’t they consider it to be a ‘safe harbor’?
    If so, that makes this act of butchery even more revolting.

  11. Sean says:

    As they say in China “If it moves and it’s endangered we’ll eat it”.

  12. Damon says:

    This is a symptom of the failures of capitalism to properly value things.

  13. charlie norton says:

    Mr. Bruno,

    Any updates since you made these blog entries? And may we have permission to use your photos and quote you on our website and on our tv newscasts?


  14. John Reavill says:

    Good for you. Thanks for reporting this.

  15. J says:

    Now here is a use for drone technology I could support. You have been judged. Will the next boat really want to fish here.

  16. […] da Universidade da Carolina do Norte, John Bruno, que ensina no Centro de Ciências de Galápagos, disse em seu blog que essa é a maior apreensão esse tipo na história do […]

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