Attorney General, Diana Salazar, must report on the criminal proceedings regarding the illegal fishing of shark fins near Galapagos

Attorney General, Diana Salazar, must report on the criminal proceedings regarding the illegal fishing of shark fins near Galapagos

November 9, 2020 – 4:39 p.m.

The Biodiversity Commission will summon three State officials to report on their actions against the seizure of shark fins in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Ecuador. Courtesy

Quito – The Attorney General of the State, Diana Salazar, will be called to the Biodiversity Commission of the National Assembly to report on the actions carried out regarding cases of illegal fishing of sharks near the Galapagos Islands since 2019 and the export case of 26 tons of shark fins which were illegally shipped from Ecuador to Hong Kong.

Eight legislators of the Legislative Commission approved a resolution that also asks for information on the eight tons of shark fins that arrived from Ecuador to Peru last September.

The resolution also requests the presence of the Minister of the Environment and the Vice Minister of Aquaculture regarding the studies and controls carried out by these State portfolios regarding the illegal fishing of shark fins in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Ecuador.

The Commission followed up on the international news of the seizure of 26 tons of 31,000 thresher sharks and 7,500 silky sharks in Hong Kong in January 2020 and which became known in May 2020, as well as the seizure of 11 tons of shark fins in Peru from Ecuador, and echoing the request of several national and international environmental and conservation organizations that have expressed their concerns about the illegal fishing of protected species in Ecuador

Although the Commission on Sovereignty and International Relations also addressed the issue and approved a resolution a week ago condemning the illegal fishing of the marine biodiversity of Galapagos and the world, it did not call the State Attorney General’s Office because the case of the seizure of 26 tons is in the preliminary investigation stage in the Integrated System of Fiscal Actions – SIAF, identifying the previous investigation No. 200301820070025, for the presumed crime against wild flora and fauna, contemplated in article 247 of the Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code.

For this reason, the Biodiversity Commission requests information from the Attorney General’s Office regarding the budget executed by that agency for the investigation of crimes against the environment and nature; internal processes to improve the investigation processes of crimes against biodiversity.

It also requests information on the lessons learned by the Attorney General’s Office in the cases of illegal fishing in 2011 in the case of the boat “Fer Mary I”; and the process started in 2019 in the case of the Juan Carlos II vessels; María Bonita I and Paloma I.

Cecilia Medina, from the technical advisory team of the Biodiversity Commission commented that the resolution was made taking into account articles from the National Geographic magazine published on November 2, 2020, where an article on the origin of shark fins is presented and makes reference to an investigation presented in the journal Biology Letters, which establishes an investigation from the DNA of shark fins in which it is determined that the majority of shark fins that were seized come from coastal sharks. The article published in October says that “coastal sharks supply the global trade in shark fins”, and National Geographic names the Republic of Ecuador as one of the countries that supply the global trade in shark fins whose species are within Exclusive Economic Zones, Medina noted.

He explained that the issue of illegal shark fin fishing is serious because in 2015 a judgment was obtained against a vessel that captured 370 sharks when the event occurred in 2011, that is, the system for the prosecution is very slow. Therefore, he said that it is necessary to review the regulations and apply more drastic sanctions to the Organic Environmental Code; the Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code (COIP) and even those laws that govern the National Customs Service of Ecuador.

More appearances

The Commission also approved the appearance of the Vice Minister of Education and Fisheries, Andrés Arens, to report on the status of the development of the regulations for the Organic Law for the Development of Aquaculture and Fisheries; statistics and main contents of Non-Harmful Extraction Reports for all shark species.

It must also report on the administrative processes from 2019 to the present date where the traceability of incidental fishing is practiced and ensured; bycatch reports and reports of sharks captured from 2013 to 2020, as well as the written delivery of the list of tuna vessels registered in Ecuador for bycatch and captured sharks; reports on shark catches by vessel, where quantities and species are indicated, which is part of a fleet of semi-industrial vessels or motherships from 2013 to 2020, and reports of white fishing.

The assembly members also require the vice minister to study populations of silky, thresher, mako, and sardinero sharks in the Pacific area near Ecuador, especially in the Galapagos Islands. The official must also report on the latest case of seizure of 8 tons of Shark in Peru from Ecuador, which occurred on September 25 of this year.

Instead, the Minister of the Environment, Paulo Proaño Andrade, will have to report to the Biodiversity Commission on the analysis of fishing pressures on Galapagos; recommendations to the Legislative Commission to contribute to better legislation for the prevention of crimes against biodiversity; and, finally, report on the regulations, ministerial agreements and resolutions that are in force to comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

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