Today’s Catch in Manta: Banned Sharks Netted ‘Legally’

Fresh catch: shark on Tarqui beach in Manta, Ecuador

Fresh catch: shark on Tarqui beach in Manta, Ecuador

Manta, Ecuador – Shark fishing is illegal in Ecuador but a loophole allows fisherman to legally sell sharks that end up in their nets. The law doesn’t define a distinction between landings that are accidental or intentional, which generally means that sharks are plentiful among the morning catch fisherman unload on beaches throughout the coast.

Below is a quick slideshow of photos taken this morning on Tarqui Beach here in Manta. As you’ll see the majority of the fish are sharks, caught, intentionally or not, primarily with the valuable fin in mind, to feed Asia’s insatiable appetite for shark fin soup. Not surprisingly, the number of sharks landed has increased dramatically since the loophole went into effect in 2007. Walking along the beach with a camera in hand, I wasn’t made to feel excessively welcome, so I didn’t linger too long.

The real prize: pile of shark fins on Tarqui beach in Manta, Ecuador

The real prize: pile of shark fins on Tarqui beach in Manta, Ecuador

Similarly a few days ago in Puerto Lopez, a small fishing community a few hours south of here, I saw dozens of piles of hammerheads in their morning fish market, many of them juveniles. I’ll post pics of some of those shortly.

Intentional finning –a brutal practice in which fins are hacked from sharks and their live bodies thrown back into oceans– is banned by many countries but has left many species on the brink of extinction.

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  1. That’s what sets you apart from most; you’re not only reporting, but you are also backing your posts with facts. Thank you for the history about the loophole. I’ve described it as borderline bloodbath but didn’t have the _______, ahem, backbone to do what you did.

    I’d best stick to painting…

    Buen trabajo, Z

    • I found the young hammerheads in Puerto Lopez –piles of them– even more troubling than this. I asked two people there who gave the same explanation: that if it’s in the net, it’s fair game.

      • you will hopefully make a difference. there’s a marine biologist who is based in california, but i think she and her husband are now working in mexico. she’s from peru. i will try to connect you with her (ingrid) who once worked at playa san miguel (CR) with the olive ridley sea turtle project.

        looks like your dance card is going to be full for wednesday in jama…

  2. Thanks for spreading the word of this legal loophole. In the 1940’s there were many freshwater bull sharks in Lake Nicaragua. A Japanese fishing company caught all the sharks in the lake for their fins and they haven’t been seen since then.

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  5. Oh that is awful. We do need sharks. If they are not targeted but caught in nets anyway, the nets should be changed.

    • I’m in the process of gathering more info on this. How the law came to pass.

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