Sharks Win Appeal in Ecuadorian Court

(CNH Tours has taken this story directly from the Sea Shepherd Society's website.  Our editorial comments appear at the end of the article.)

Earlier this month, on November 6, 2015, an appeal hearing took place in the notorious Fer Mary case.

This case dates back to 2011 , when the Ecuadorian Navy and rangers of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) apprehended the industrial longline-fishing vessel, Fer Mary, some 20 nautical miles inside the protected GMR. A staggering 357 sharks were found onboard this Ecuadorian vessel.

In July 2015, an Ecuadorian Penal Tribunal found the captain and crew of the fishing vessel guilty of poaching sharks in Galapagos, a protected area and a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site. It was the first judicial conviction of its kind in 17 years, since the taking effect of legislation adopted to protect the Galapagos archipelago. The captain and crew filed their appeal in August.

According to the website of the National Judicial Authority of Ecuador, upon appeal the case was re-examined and it was determined that both the infraction and the responsibility of the defendants had been duly proven at trial. Hence, on November 6, 2015, the Appeal Chamber unanimously denied the appeal and subsequently confirmed the guilty verdict and prison sentences of two years for the captain, and one year for the crew. The verdict also ordered the destruction of the Fer Mary, which has already occurred.

According to the law, the appeal decision may yet be challenged through an extraordinary judicial recourse at the Supreme Court of Justice. Nevertheless, this outcome is an important step in concluding the second phase of litigation.

Sea Shepherd congratulates the Prosecutors Office of Ecuador and the Galapagos National Park for their efforts that have reached this historic verdict and granted justice to the sharks. Sea Shepherd also salutes the civil society of Galapagos and the local community for their long-standing and valid concerns in this important case.

CNH Tours adds:  We have been following this case closely.  Marc Patry at CNH Tours since June, was formerly with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and monitored the application of environmental laws in the islands.   It has not been easy to convince local judges to prosecute their countrymen for fishing sharks - a species that does not attract much sympathy from the courts.  After several years of sensitizing the judiciary in Ecuador on the importance of these laws, including training sessions, the Sea Sheperd Society has shown that sharks CAN be protected in Galapagos waters by fully applying the law.  It's nice to see that all the effort put into patrolling the waters by the Galapagos National Park Service, with national government funding, funds from the tourist entry fees, and from international donors, are having an effect.  Congratulations to all, and to Hugo Echeverria Ilegal advisor in Galapagos) and Alex Cornelissen (captain and CEO) - our friends at the Sea Shepherd Society.  Well done - and let's keep Galapagos waters free from industrial and sports fishing.


Picture:  Fer Mary's shark catch when she was apprehended in 2011 (credit Sea Shepherd Society)

Fer Mary I shark catch