QUITO – A court in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands fined and sentenced on Sunday 20 crew members of a Chinese cargo ship to at least three years in prison for fishing protected marine species.
The crew of the ship Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 were arrested on Aug. 13, 34.5 nautical miles east of San Cristobal island, the easternmost point of the archipelago.
The verdict handed down by the court in San Cristobal sentenced the captain of the ship to four years in prison, and the rest of the crew received sentences ranging from one to three years, a source from the Galapagos National Park told EFE.
In addition to the custodial sentences, the ruling imposed fines between $127,000 to $2 million.
The vessel was found with 300 tons of catch, including protected species such as hammerhead sharks.
Judge Alexandra Arroyo also declared the National Park a victim for which it will receive $5.9 million in damages.
Made up of 13 large islands, six small ones and 42 islets, the Galapagos have unique fauna and flora and is home to the giant tortoises to which it owes its name.
Its rich biodiversity has made it a natural laboratory that allowed English scientist Charles Darwin to develop his theory on the evolution and natural selection of species.