QUITO – The Ecuadorian navy seized the Costa Rican fishing boat Rosa I with a cargo of shark meat in the Galapagos Islands and is investigating whether the vessel caught the fish within the archipelago, where shark fishing is banned.
The fishing boat was stopped about 104 nautical miles northwest of Darwin Island with 75 pieces of shark meat aboard, Ecuavisa television reported.
The fishing boat, which was intercepted by a coast guard cutter, had five crewmen and a dog aboard.
Navy investigators are trying to determine whether the sharks were caught inside or outside the islands, which are a protected marine reserve.
The sharks were caught in international waters, but the vessel was forced to enter the Galapagos due to an emergency, the fishing boat’s captain, Wainer Bonilla, told Ecuavisa.
“We entered Ecuadorian waters because we were having problems with the main engine,” Bonilla said.
The Rosa I and its crew earn a living from shark fishing, which is allowed in Costa Rica, Bonilla said, adding that each piece of shark meat brings between $60 and $70 in the Central American country.
This is the fourth Costa Rican boat stopped this year for illegal fishing in the Galapagos.
The Galapagos Islands are located about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) west of the coast of continental Ecuador and were declared a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978.
Some 95 percent of the territory’s 8,000 sq. kilometers (a little over 3,000 sq. miles) constitutes a protected area that is home to more than 50 species of animals and birds found nowhere else on the planet.
The islands were made famous by 19th-century British naturalist Charles Darwin, whose observations of life on the islands contributed greatly to his theory of the evolution of species.