The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ecuador police confiscate 2 tons of shark fins following decree allowing shark fishing

IHT, 3 Aug, 2007

QUITO, Ecuador: Police have seized two tons of shark fins illegally fished in the days before a widely criticized presidential decree allowing the sale of fins if the sharks — some of them threatened species — are caught accidentally.

Police discovered hundreds of fins, which are considered a delicacy in Asia, in fishermen's homes in the Pacific port of Manta 260 kilometers (160 miles) southwest of Quito, Ecuador's capital.

The discovery was made Tuesday, the same day a decree by President Rafael Correa went into effect allowing the sale of fins if the sharks are caught accidentally in fishermen's nets.

The decree was sharply criticized by environmentalists, who said it would promote shark fishing and make it harder to regulate attempts to preserve shark species.

Manta police chief Pedro Cozar said Thursday officers had detained 15 people for illegal fishing of sharks.

A group of fishermen led by state Gov. Juan Carlos Flor marched to the police station in Manta to demand the release of those arrested and the return of the confiscated shark fins. Flor is a member of Correa's party and is running for a seat in a constitutional assembly to be elected Sept. 30.

Jorge Chiriboga, leader of Manta's fishing cooperatives, argued those detained should be released because they were allowed to sell fins under the new decree.

Former Environment Minister Edgar Isch called the decree "a way to more easily evade any type of control" aimed at preserving shark species.

The decree "is a measure to please the fishing industry, absolutely political in search of votes" for the constitutional assembly said Luis Rodriguez, president of tourism guides on the Galapagos Islands, 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) west of Ecuador's coast. "It opens the door to an increase in illegal fishing"

Sharks continue to be protected in the Galapagos IslandsEcuador's top tourist destination.

Correa said legalizing the sale of fins would generate income for fishermen and he stressed that deliberate shark fishing would remain illegal.

But he did not say how authorities would determine if sharks had been caught accidentally or on purpose.

In his weekly radio address on Sunday, Correa said his government was "profoundly green" on environmental matters and said controls against deliberate fishing of sharks had been toughened.

A public opinion survey in Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, at the end of July showed only 4 percent of those consulted were in favor of the measure while 79 percent opposed it.

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