A judge for the ocean

The article below from  Sea Shepherd describes the slowly developing recognition that the current judiciary in Ecuador and elsewhere cannot deal with various environmental laws. Just like the recent case in Indonesia, when a boat was caught illegally harvesting sharks in the Galapagos, all the fisherman were sent home with minimal fines. But on the other hand, I am not sure putting them in jail for life is a reasonable punishment. Nor would it be an effective solution or deterrent given the poverty in the region and the high value of shark products on international markets. I suspect there will always be young boys and men willing to go to sea to fish for sharks if the price is right, regardless of the potential consequences. If the deterrent does not stop shark fishing, then it has to be stopped before the sharks are caught and killed. Which means constant vigilance. 

PS – From now on, everyone on my team that drives a boat, gets the title of Captain! 


Last week, the National Judicial Authority of Ecuador invited the conservation sector of Galapagos to attend a meeting to analyze the need to create a specialized judicial system in Galapagos for environmental matters. As one of its members and the initiator of the judicial reform in Galapagos, Sea Shepherd’s legal advisor attended the meeting held in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

The main subject of this meeting was to discuss the creation of an environmental judiciary in Galapagos. For Sea Shepherd, it was an important opportunity to explain the need to have a specialized judge ruling over environmental cases being prosecuted in the Galapagos Islands.

Since 2010, Sea Shepherd Galapagos has been advocating for the creation of the first-in-the-world judiciary specializing in nature rights. In time, this initiative has received the support of many other conservation activists. This idea is strongly supported by the Constitution of Ecuador (the first-in-the-world recognizing rights to nature) and also by a new law that calls for the actual establishment of such specialized judiciaries ¨at any time and in compliance with the constitutional mandate.”

After years of work in the Galapagos Islands, Sea Shepherd has witnessed just how challenging law enforcement can be in areas such as the Galapagos Marine Reserve. We believe that a specialized judiciary will be a huge improvement when it comes to addressing such challenges. We believe that the local judicial system not only could be, but also should be, an entity that can really make the difference in effectively enforcing marine environmental law.

For this reason Sea Shepherd congratulates the National Judicial Authority for having made such an important step towards addressing environmental issues, not only in Galapagos, but also in other regions of the country.

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