CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Monday December 27, 2010
Hong Kong Diplomat Charged
Galapagos National Park
Service files criminal
charges for environmental
(translated from Spanish using Google Translate - and edited by CNH Tours)
The event involves a diplomat from Hong Kong who visited the Galapagos. The diplomat was caught transporting dried sea horses, an endangered species, alongside another, as yet unidentified species. He was preparing to leave the islands carrying these species in his luggage. The sale of sea horses is strictly prohibited.
According to the police report, while performing routine inspections of luggage at the Baltra Island airport in Galapagos, Kipper, a National Police sniffer dog, raised the alarm when it sniffed a black suitcase owned by Li Ping Yan, Hong Kong citizen carrying a diplomatic passport.
The police asked Mr. Yan to open up his suitcase, and
20 dried seahorses and 37 pieces of a marine species not yet determined, possibly coming from sharks.
When Li Ping Yan informed that the product carrying was illegal, he said he had purchased them freely.
Environmental Police gave evidence of this crime to the Galapagos National Park Service for their care and actions.
The Park Service submitted a formal criminal complaint for this environmental crime, and followed up with a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, requesting that necessary arrangements are made, given the fact that the person apprehended with the illegal products was a diplomat.
CNH Tours is very pleased to see the National Police doing its job, and also happy to note the follow-up by the Galapagos National Park Service. Environmental crimes are too often treated as unimportant by the judiciary, and people breaking environmental laws are not often prosecuted severely, if at all, despite provisions for doing so in the law.
The Chinese appetite for sea products is well known and has led to the devastation of shark populations worldwide as unscrupulous fishermen seek to supply the black market in shark fins, the main ingredient for Shark Fin Soup. Shark fining continues to be practiced illegally in Galapagos, despite efforts to control it. A United Nations report in 2006 estimated the total number of sharks illegally fished in Galapagos at 300,000 - 400,000. The same can be said for sea cucumbers - whose numbers have plunged in the Galapagos since the 1980's. It is worrisome to see interest now turning to the delicate sea horse.