Ecuador seized around 200,000 shark fins and arrested three suspected poachers at the country’s main fishing port, the government said on Wednesday. Ecuadorian authorities reported that at least 300,000 sharks were killed by the traffickers. This is in one of the most serious environmental crimes reported in the country in years, despite ecuadorian laws prohibiting shark fishing since 2007.
Shark finning refers to the removal and retention of shark fins while the remainder of the living shark is discarded in the ocean. Coveted in Asia for medicinal uses and as a delicacy, shark fins are among the most expensive seafood products, commonly retailing at US$700 per kg.*
Despite international support for a ban on cutting off fins (100 countries in 2014), many countries continue to practice shark finning. About 30 % of sharks are fished for their fins (this data is difficult to ascertain because of illegal fishing). This practice is considered as the major cause of the global decline in shark numbers. **. Populations have declined by 90 % worldwide and one in three shark species is threatened with extinction ( IUCN – 2003). The Cousteau Society is working towards the resolution of this issue by developing a project to protect shark populations in the Red Sea: Project Sharks and Rays of the Red Sea.
* Stefania Vannuccini, « Shark utilization, marketing and trade. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 389. Rome », Fisheries and Aquaculture Department – FAO, 1999
** P. Deynat, Requin : entre menaces et espoirs, Apnéa, 2010, p. 46-50.