Ecuador's president overturned a ban on the sale of shark fins, which are popular in Asia, but stipulated they can only be sold if the sharks are caught by fishermen accidentally.
In a presidential decree last year, Rafael Correa said the legalization of the sale of shark fins would help generate income for fishermen and added that shark fishing would remain illegal. The number of sharks caught "accidentally" has increased not only here but in other parts of the world. This is sending a dangerous message to fishermen.
This can have serious repercussions not only for the endangered sharks but ecologically. We must make a global statement that shows we are critical of this action!
We, the undersigned, are concerned over the future of many species of shark in Ecuadorean waters. We believe that your decree to lift a ban on the sale and export of shark fins caught accidentally outside Galapagos territorial waters sets a dangerous precedent. We are calling upon you to reverse your decision. Though you do stipulate that the sharks must be caught accidentally, we feel that the instances of "accidental" catchings will increase thus put the entire shark population at great risk. Sharks play a key role in maintaining the archipelago's delicate ecosystem.
Sharks are vulnerable due to their slow growth rate, late sexual maturity and low numbers of young. They need full protection. Environmentalist groups warn that legalizing the sale of shark fins caught by accidental fishing has put the Galapagos shark in peril of extinction. Since the Galapagos Islands are one of the locations where large numbers of sharks can still be found, your decision can be considered a blow to their survival.
Even former Environment Minister Edgar Isch called it "a way to more easily evade any type of control" aimed at preserving species. Ecuador can be seen as among the forerunners of eco-change and take other Latin America forward as a leader in eco-tourism especially since the Galapagos Islands are a top tourist destination. Although we understand that there is a concern for the fishermen, we implore you to find alternative ways for them to garner an income.
While we commend your previous stated stands on environmental and conservation issues, we must condemn you for this seeming reversal. Please reconsider your ban, or at the very least redefine it by making a determination on how and THAT it will be enforced, and help save sharks today!
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
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