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Official statement from WWF Ecuador

Added to Press Releases on 23 August 2017
OFFICIAL STATEMENT BY THE DIRECTOR OF WWF ECUADOR ABOUT THE RECENT ARREST OF A CHINESE SHIP CARRYING ILLEGAL MARINE SPECIES INSIDE THE GALAPAGOS MARINE RESERVE Considering the recent arrest of a Chinese reefer refrigerated cargo ship with significant quantities of pelagic fish species in its holds, including internationally protected sharks, inside the Galapagos Marine Reserve, WWF publically rejects all forms of industrial fishing and the entrance of banned ships in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. These activities threaten the integrity of ecosystems and the biodiversity of this important UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.



For immediate release


We applaud the Ecuadorian Navy’s operation, supported by the Ministry of Environment, to apprehend the aforementioned ship, demonstrating the country’s interest in respecting the important marine protected area.

In images of the detained ship, shark species can be seen that are listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), such as the pelagic thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus) and the scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini). Several species of the Carcharhinus genus can also be seen, including probably the silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) which is also listed in CITES Appendix II. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is an important breeding and repopulation site for the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. Fishing boats exploit the spillover of fisheries that venture outside the limits of the reserve.

The arrest and seizure of the ship was possible thanks to control and monitoring systems installed in the Galapagos by the national government with support of organizations such as WWF, Sea Shepard, WildAid, and Conservation International, to be used by the Galapagos National Park Service and the Ecuadorian Navy. These have allowed the archipelago to become one of the few areas with a real time, high-quality ship monitoring system, demonstrating a clear example of progress in managing the Marine Reserve since the decision two decades ago by the country to protect the waters of Galapagos from industrial fishing.

This incident occurs at a moment wheen the traceability of fishing products was already being debated internationally, highlighting the issue of transshipping fishing activities at sea by longline fishing vessels for cargo ships that eventually sell the fish on land. If these activities are not adequately controlled it can lead to illegally caught fish being included in the market chain of legal products. Transshipping is also closely related to the practice of flags of convenience, poor onboard labor conditions that almost constitute slavery, and interference with fishing observers that monitor these activities.

In the eastern Pacific Ocean, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission is in charge of controlling regional fishing activities. It regulates transshipping but it has not been able to reach a consensus among countries to increase the amount of onboard observers on industrial longline vessels. This means that there are many longline fishing boats that belong to countries with long-distance fleets that can easily fish at sea without any control. WWF has made a warning call to member countries of the IATTC about these regionally important issues. WWF will continue its technical support to the IATTC while advocating better practices to eliminate illegal, uncontrolled, and unregulated fishing.

Due to the severity of the committed offence, it is of the upmost importance that authorities check if the detained ship is on the list of vessels that can legally operate in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. If it is not, the ship should immediately be reported to the IATTC, which Ecuador is a member of and that serves as the Regional Fishing Organization, to be included on the list of vessels that conduct illegal, unc, and unregulated fishing activities.

In light of these facts, WWF will continue to support the national government’s efforts, particularly those of the Ministry of Environment and the Navy, to safeguard the Galapagos and conserve, not only the world renowned archipelago, but also all of the country’s coasts, the habitat of giant manta rays, sharks, and several tropical tuna species, an internationally important resource. We reiterate our rejection of fishing fleets entering restricted zones and our commitment to continue working in support of strengthening the Galapagos Marine Reserve’s protection systems

As an organization, we have seen as a positive action the recent announcement of the government of the People’s Republic of China regarding climate change, environmental crimes, and species trafficking. In light of this declaration, we will be requesting a meeting with the Chinese diplomatic delegation in our country, which we are sure we will be granted, to present and examine the issues discussed in this communication.

Worldwide, WWF works to prevent and mitigate this type of activities, which should be analyzed urgently and seriously by all effected countries. Today, we make a special appeal to large countries with important industrial fishing fleets, like the People’s Republic of China, to reinforce controls on their fishing fleets and guarantee respect for the territorial waters of the smallest countries. We invite all of our partners and friends to join us in protecting the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean!

Hugo Arnal, Country Director, WWF-Ecuador


For more information please contact María Fernanda Burneo, WWF-Ecuador Communication Manager,

About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit and follow us on Facebook @WWFEcuador



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