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

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.

NOTE: I posted a longer more detailed update on Oct 21, 2014 on the finning situation in Ecuador, including the insights, thoughts and concerns of experts working there on the ground.

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
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. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says

    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

    1. BobR says

      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.

      1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says

        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.

  3. […] the day’s fresh catch informal market. What I find are piles of neatly sliced shark fins from the ‘legal illegal’ catch. Walking with camera in hand, I’m not made to feel very welcome so I don’t linger too long. But […]

  4. […] Here are a few shots of just a few of the several hundred brown pelicans that gathered in some trees near my hotel in Manta, Ecuador. The city, the second largest in ‪Manabí‬ province and the fifth largest in the country, didn’t do much for me, but the opportunity to watch these bird gather and play each evening made my two days in Manta unforgettable. That, and witnessing a shark slaughter. […]

  5. budgettraveltalk says

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

    1. BobR says

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

  6. […] piles of shark fins were behind […]

  7. […] ago the Balmaceda glacier in Southern Chile was at water level. Below that, a technically legal harvest of shark fins on a beach in Manta, […]

  8. […] I was in Ecuador in May 2013, I posted a brief summary on my blog of how a loophole in Ecuadoran law allowed fishermen to legally sell sharks that ended up in their […]

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