Periodista, experto en temas ambientales.
This is part of the largest shark fin smuggling seized in Hong Kong in May 2020 and was shipped from Guayaquil, Ecuador. There were 26 tons, 30,500 sharks killed for their fins and the fine imposed Photo: taken from the South China Morning Post, photo by Nora Tam.
In this session of the Commission, the final voting text for the second debate of the project to reform the Organic Environmental Code had to be approved. It seemed a simple task: this project has been two years in the making; it has received contributions and attacks from every imaginable sector: animal protectionists, industrial fishermen, defenders and some authorities.
That is why I can affirm that it is not true what Assemblyman César Rohon said in the plenary session of the Assembly: "the fishing sector did not participate in this debate". In this link is the official letter from the National Chamber of Fisheries, dated April 7, which shows that they were well aware of the bill.
Screenshot of the letter sent by the National Chamber of Fisheries to the Biodiversity Commission of the National Assembly.
INDUSTRIAL FISHERMEN OPPOSE THE TEMPORARY BAN ON SHARK BYCATCH, THE ISSUE THAT MOST WORRIES THIS INDUSTRY, WHICH CLAIMS TO BE THE MOST CONTROLLED IN THE COUNTRY, BUT WHICH HOLDS THE WORLD RECORD FOR SHARK FIN SMUGGLING
Also proposed is a ban on the importation of exotic animals such as giraffes and hippopotamuses, such as those "already agreed" between two zoos in Ecuador and the guardians of the animals brought by Pablo Escobar that escaped to the Magdalena River in Colombia, the reasons for not importing in this link.But let's go back to the 14th session of the Biodiversity Commission of the Assembly. In which there was no time for boredom and many surprises. The first one was that the Pachakutik assembly member Gissella Molina, designated as rapporteur of this project, tried in every possible way to have it shelved. The arguments were unbelievable: that "they are last minute reforms", that "this project is being pushed through between the hours of the night", that "it is not comprehensive, that it deals with two legal bodies", that "it needs to be well analyzed"... In other words, she was unaware of the previous report and all the work behind it. If she had any doubts, a few hours on the Facebook account watching the videos of the Commission would bring her up to date with the interventions.
Screenshot of the 14th Session of the Biodiversity Commission when Fredy Rojas, CREO Assemblyman for Galapagos, speaks. Click here for the video https://fb.watch/7G6-jedSIA/
It took more than an hour to start the text that covers two norms: the Organic Code of the Environment and the Organic Code of Territorial Organization, Autonomy and Decentralization. One of the advisors demonstrated, in a didactic way, that it is possible to deal with cross-cutting issues in a single regulatory body.
There was a break and representatives of Imbabura, who are promoting the creation of the Geopark, were received in general commission. And after the presentations. Molina played her role. She asked the guests about mining in the province, she talked about Buenos Aires... The Pachakutik Assemblywoman for Cotopaxi said that "she is not willing to accept a reform made in a hurry and will not allow to leave out the sanctions on mining and says that she is committed to support the animal activists of which I am a member".
Zapata on sea cucumbers omitted to say that, in general terms, the holothurians have not recovered. For example, in 2001 they fished 3.5 million cucumbers and this time there were 600,000 and after waiting five years for the cucumber populations to recover somewhat (in this link some data).But the fishermen were there because of the ban on the use of longline and its variants in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. This prohibition was in the second paragraph of the aforementioned fourth transitional provision and sought to ban this fishing gear that is characterized by being unselective and having a high percentage of bycatch such as sharks, turtles and seabirds, species that are not supposed to be the target of fishing.
After the Galapagos artisanal fishermen, Cristina Cely, a veterinarian like Molina, spoke, but she is a long-time animal activist and one of the promoters of the moratorium on the commercialization of sharks and their fins. Cely spoke as if she were at home, I have seen at least five interventions in the same Biodiversity Commission and the Plenary of the Assembly providing data on shark fishing, the Chinese fishing fleet, demanding answers on the smuggling of shark fins and denouncing the longline fleet that turns off its identification and location systems near Galapagos.With firm and technical arguments Cely explained the reasons for the moratorium on shark commercialization. "Environmentalists work so that fishermen are not left without fishing, I am not against an activity on which thousands of families depend on the coast. Sharks play a fundamental role in the sea by maintaining healthy fish populations that artisanal fishermen catch", were some of the phrases she dedicated to the fishing sector with the skill of a surgeon expert in dealing with the apparent lack of reasons.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN GISSELA MOLINA'S INSISTENCE IS ANTHOLOGICAL, IT WAS EXPLAINED TO HER AT LEAST THREE TIMES THAT THE BIODIVERSITY COMMISSION CANNOT ASK FOR THE PROJECT TO BE SHELVED, IF THAT IS HER WISH, SHE SHOULD ASK FOR IT BEFORE THE PLENARY
Giraffes in their natural environment in the Kruguer National Park in South Africa. Photo Franklin Vega
Just before starting the celebrations for the sharks that will be saved and how Ecuador will stop being the third world exporter of shark fins - at least for a year or until this bloody business is controlled - the secretary of the Commission read the proposal of Assemblyman Rohon, who had presented it in the plenary a week before the debate in the Commission. The document of the Assemblyman for Guayas, and fishing industrialist, asked for the elimination of the entire fourth transitory provision, that is to say, the moratorium and the longline issue.
Immediately, the Assemblyman of Galapagos, Fredy Rojas, requested the reconsideration of the vote and the audio went away again. The objective was clear: to open a door to eliminate the temporary ban on the commercialization of sharks and the prohibition of the use of longlines in Galapagos. However, only Efren Calapucha, representative of Pastaza, changed his vote in the reconsideration.
Thus, the Galapagos deputies and the fishing industry were left with the desire to eliminate -with the typical tricks of politics- the temporary moratorium on the commercialization of sharks. Now we have to wait for how it will be voted in the plenary of the National Assembly, in one or two weeks. It is known that Assemblywoman Molina is on a personal crusade in Pachakutik for the bill to be shelved and I also know that not everyone in that movement is willing to let the fishing industry continue exporting sharks and the smuggling of shark fins to position Ecuador as the third largest exporter in the world.
For now, I am going to send 115 emails to the assembly members asking them to approve the ban on importing exotic animals and the moratorium on sharks (in this link are the addresses and emails of each one: https://observatoriolegislativo.ec/ ) and I will start with the Biodiversity Commission.
Screenshot of the Legislative Observatory website https://observatoriolegislativo.ec/
How many more cases like the 26 tons seized from Hong Kong will be uncovered? In this crusade for transparency, the Assembly has not stood out so far, but it has an opportunity to say that the health - which implies that artisanal fishermen can continue fishing - of the sea matters to them.
*This article was originally published at www.bitacoraec.com and is reposted in Plan V with the author's permission.
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