Fujian Fishery Firm Implicated in Transportation of Protected Species off Galapagos Islands
The Chinese-flagged ship — detained by Ecuadorean authorities in mid-August on suspicion of illegal possession and transportation of protected species off the Galapagos Islands — belongs to Fuzhou Honglong Ocean Aquatic Products Co., a private company registered in Fujian province, separate sources told Caixin.
The vessel, Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999, was caught by Ecuadorean authorities on Aug. 13 off the Galapagos Islands with about 300 tons of marine species on board, including 6,600 sharks and other endangered species, according to the Ecuadorean Environment Ministry.
An Ecuadorean court on Sunday sentenced the 20 fishermen on board to jail terms ranging from one to four years and a collective fine of $5.9 million for illegally transporting protected species.
The environment ministry said the Chinese ship was fishing in the Galapagos marine reserve. The islands, about 1,000 kilometers west of Ecuador’s Pacific coast, inspired British naturalist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Authorities of southern China’s coastal province of Fujian confirmed to Caixin Wednesday that the detained vessel is owned by Fuzhou Honglong Ocean Aquatic Products, registered in Fuzhou, the provincial capital.
In a phone interview with Caixin, a Honglong staff member said his office was not familiar with the company’s overseas operations, without commenting on the ownership of the boat.
In response to questions from Caixin, the Ecuadorean embassy in Beijing cited the country’s foreign affairs ministry as saying that the fishermen violated Ecuador’s Integral Criminal Organic Code for crimes against wild flora and fauna.
Wang Yaming, an oceanography professor at Shandong University, said penalties in the case would vary depending on whether Ecuadorean, international, or Chinese law applied. For instance, some shark species that are listed as protected in Ecuador are not protected in China.
Liu Yudan, a marine law professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University, said the key is to confirm where the ship was detained to determine jurisdiction.
The Galapagos National Park, the plaintiff listed in the case, hasn’t responded to Caixin’s question on the matter.
Contact reporter Han Wei (email@example.com)
A previous version of this story gave the incorrect reason that Ecuadorean authorities detained the Chinese-flagged ship off the Galapagos Islands.
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