An Ecuadorean judge has reportedly sentenced 20 Chinese crew members to up to four years in prison for illegal fishing off the Galapagos Islands and fined them a total of 5.9 million USA dollars.
Judge Alexandra Arroyo announced late Sunday that the captain of the Fu Yuab Yu Leng 999 will serve four years in jail.
The ruling was issued after three days without judgment, which also determined that the guilty party must pay United States dollars 5.9 million in full reparation for damages caused to the fragile marine ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands.
It reported earlier this month that China’s ambassador in Quito, Wang Yulin, said his country wanted to take all measures necessary to “put an end to these illicit practices”.
A mixture of warm and cold ocean currents plus the islands’ isolated location 620 miles west of Ecuador’s Pacific coast make the location ideal for about 3,000 species of fish and 34 different species of shark.
China respects Ecuador’s concerns over the Galapagos marine reserve, and will remind Chinese fishing vessels to comply with regulations and avoid entering the area, Hua said.
The boat will be taken over by Ecuador and the dead animals thrown out to sea, the government said on Monday.
Shark fin soup is a traditional luxury soup dating back to the Song Dynasty of 960-1279 and symbolizes generosity, good fortune and wealth.
“The Chinese side believes that the relevant departments of Ecuador will handle the case in compliance with the law and will also guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of the affected Chinese people and companies”, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, at a press conference.
However, she said there was no evidence the ship was fishing in Ecuadorian waters but that the ship had transited through the Galapagos protected zone without permission as it did not understand Ecuadorian rules.