Ecuador jails Chinese fishermen found
with 6,000 sharks
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[August 29, 2017]
QUITO (Reuters) - An Ecuadorean
judge has jailed 20 Chinese fishermen for up to four years for illegally
fishing off the Galapagos Islands, where they were caught with 6,600
The Chinese-flagged ship Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 was apprehended in
mid-August with some 300 tonnes of near-extinct or endangered species,
including hammerhead sharks.
The crew received jail time of between one and four years, the judge
said late on Sunday. They were also fined a total of $5.9 million.
Ecuador's foreign ministry said it had sent a formal protest to China
over the presence of ships near the Galapagos, which inspired British
naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
It reported earlier this month that China's ambassador in Quito, Wang
Yulin, said his country wanted to take all measures necessary to "put an
end to these illicit practices."
The islands are about 1,000 km (620 miles) west of Ecuador's Pacific
The Environment Ministry said the Chinese vessel was fishing in the
Galapagos' marine reserve.
The boat will be taken over by Ecuador and the dead animals thrown out
to sea, the government said on Monday.
Shark fin is a status symbol for many Chinese, prized as nourishment and
consumed in a shredded jelly-like soup. Restaurants across China serve
it at traditional banquets, despite a 2014 crackdown by President Xi
Jinping on extravagance and a ban on serving the delicacy at official
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Residents protest after Chinese crew members were detained along
with others for illegally fishing off the Galapagos Islands, in
Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Ecuador August 25, 2017. Picture taken
August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Tapia
Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua
Chunying said on Tuesday China opposed any form of illegal fishing,
and was paying great attention to the case.
However, she said there was no evidence the ship was fishing in
Ecuadorian waters but that the ship had transited through the
Galapagos protected zone without permission as it did not understand
China hopes Ecuador can fairly handle the case and protect the
legitimate rights of the Chinese nationals, Hua added.
Centenarian tortoises and blue-footed boobies inhabit the Galapagos
alongside some 18,000 islanders who earn a living from fishing and
the tourism industry.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Additional reporting by Ben
Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by W Simon
and Nick Macfie)
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