In hot soup: sharks captured in Ecuador’s waters

Sharks never stop growing and neither does the Asian demand for sharkfin soup. Ecuador is one nation of many that feeds the demand for fins, and fishers there catch more than 40 different shark species. But shark catches have been considerably underreported worldwide. Until the 2005 update of fisheries data, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) did not report elasmobranches for Ecuador, indicating that the Ecuadorian government did not report on these species. This study reconstructs Ecuador’s mainland shark landings from the bottom up from 1979 to 2004. Over this period, shark landings for the Ecuadorian mainland were an estimated 7000 tonnes per year, or nearly half a million sharks. Reconstructed shark landings were about 3.6 times greater than those retroactively reported by FAO from 1991 to 2004. The discrepancies in data require immediate implementation of the measures Ecuadorian law mandates: eliminating targeted shark captures, finning and transship- ments, as well as adoption of measures to minimise incidental capture. Most of all, a serious shark landings monitoring system and effective chain of custody standards are needed.

Jacquet, J., J.J. Alava, P. Ganapathiraju, S. Henderson, & D. Zeller. (2008) In hot soup: sharks captured in Ecuador’s waters. Environmental Sciences5(4): 269-283.