(ILLEGAL SHARK FISHING) ECUADOR — Galapagos National Park rangers and an Ecuador navy ship detained a vessel with 357 shark carcasses on board found inside the marine reserve. The 30 or so fisherman caught with the dead sharks now face criminal charges as commercial-scale fishing, including shark fishing, is illegal within the parameters of the Galapagos Islands. Read on to discover how illegal shark fishing and finning is putting some species at risk of extinction. — Global Animal


Some 30 fishermen caught with 357 dead sharks aboard their rundown vessel inside Galapagos National Park now face criminal charges, park officials said.

A patrol by park rangers and an Ecuador navy ship detained the vessel Monday night as it fished 20 miles inside the Galapagos Marine Reserve, the park said in a statement.

Shark fishing, as well as any commercial-scale fishing, is illegal inside the park and its marine reserve.

John Bruno, a University of North Carolina marine biologist teaching at the Galapagos Science Center, wrote on his blog that the park had declared it the largest shark seizure in its history.

“As sad as it is,” he wrote, “I am really encouraged that the park now has the capacity to detect and apprehend illegal fishers in the marine reserve.”

The species found were: 286 bigeye thresher, 22 blue sharks, 40 Galapagos sharks, 6 hammerhead sharks, 2 tiger sharks, and 1 mako shark.

Some of the more than 300 sharks found aboard a fishing vessel in the Galapagos. Photo credit: MSNBC

Illegal shark fishing in Ecuador and other countries helps feed a demand for shark fin soup in Asia. The practice has put pressure on many shark species, some of which have become endangered or threatened with extinction.

In the Galapagos, illegal shark fishing and finning — the act of cutting off the fins — took off in the late 1990s when the local sea cucumber fishery collapsed.

The Galapagos, an island chain made famous by Charles Darwin and his “Origin of Species,” was declared a U.N. World Heritage site in 1979.

More: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43856767/ns/world_news-world_environment/?GT1=43001