Shark cargo ship penalties softened on appeal

Yesterday, a provincial appellate court (Guayas province) maintained the principle of an earlier conviction against the crew of the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 cargo ship, caught last September crossing the Galapagos Marine Reserve without permission, and transporting over 6,000 shark carcasses, most of them endangered.  

The court reduced the captain's sentence from 4 to 3 years of imprisonment, while maintaining the sentences for three assistants to a 3 years, and the rest of the crew (16 people) to one year.  

The ship, originally confiscated, is to be returned to the owner on the argument that the owner was not involved in the decision to cross the marine reserve of to carry sharks.    But the US$6 million penalty originally imposed still holds.

This is good news for sharks and for the Galapagos Marine Reserve.   Though there is no evidence that the sharks were captured in Galapagos or Ecuadorian waters, Ecuador's constitution gives the country the right to protect wildlife and for this reason, courts were empowered to prosecute this wildlife crime. 

We suppose that further appeals may be made - more news to come!  See our earlier stories about this case in the pasts weeks for more information.