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Over 300 Dead Sharks Found On Illegal Fishing Boat

July 24, 2011

Ecuadorean officials have reported that they have seized over 350 dead sharks from a boat that had been illegally fishing in the waters around the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve.

The Associated Press (AP) on Friday, citing government news agency reports, said that the crew of the boat, which had been discovered southeast of Genovesa Island on Monday night, will face criminal proceedings for fishing in the protected waters of the aquatic reserve. The catching, selling, and transporting of sharks within the park is strictly prohibited.

MSNBC.com added that the vessel had been located by park rangers and an Ecuador navy ship some 20 miles inside the Galapagos Islands park, and that the total number of sharks discovered were 286 bigeye thresher, 22 blue sharks, 40 Galapagos sharks, 6 hammerhead sharks, 2 tiger sharks, and 1 mako shark.

According to University of North Carolina (UNC) marine biologist John Bruno, who is currently teaching at the Galapagos Science Center, it was the largest shark seizure ever at the national park.

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,” Bruno wrote in a blog entry Wednesday. “Surprisingly, whole (but gutted) bodies of the sharks were on board”¦ they were not finned at sea.”

“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,” he added. “Kudos to them!”

According to the MSNBC.com report, illegal shark fishing in places such as Ecuador occurs because of the massive demand for shark fin soup, particularly in Asia.

Many species have become threatened or endangered as a result of the practice, which has been a problem in the Galapagos Islands since the late 1990s, the website noted.

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