Illegal shark fishing in the Galápagos Marine Reserve
Illegal shark fishing is thought to occur globally, including within so-called “shark sanctuaries”, marine reserves and even inside UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the Galápagos Islands. Presumably, this is due to poor local enforcement coupled with the growing international demand (and high economic incentives) for shark and other wildlife products. Understanding illegal shark fishing practices, and specifically catch composition, is important as poaching is identified as a causal factor of global declines in shark populations. Unfortunately, reliable quantitative data on illegal shark fishing are scarce. Here, the catch onboard an illegal shark fishing vessel seized within the borders of the Galápagos Marine Reserve was documented. A total of 379 sharks from seven shark species were found onboard the vessel. A large fraction of the illegal catch was comprised of both female and juvenile sharks (64% and 89%, respectively). Despite numerous recent advances in shark conservation worldwide, this study demonstrates illegal shark fishing is an ongoing concern and that stricter enforcement and legislation is urgently needed, particularly in areas of high biodiversity.
This work was authored by Lindsey A.Carr, Adrian C. Stier (me), Katharina Fietz, Ignacio Montero, Austin J. Gallagher, and John F.Bruno. The original paper can be found here, or email me directly if interested for a copy.