Ecuador’s new Fishing and Aquaculture Law, passed in April, is designed to toughen the existing system of sanctions and to improve surveillance, control and monitoring.
According to Bruno Leone, president of the National Chamber of Fisheries, updating the law in this way aims to allow fishing activity, which is of significant importance to Ecuador, to be carried out with all the guarantees and in compliance with the parameters of sustainability necessary to protect the marine environment.
The Organic Law for the Development of Aquaculture and Fishing has been supported and agreed upon by the institutions, companies and organisations of the fishing sector.
“We have the greatest interest in taking care of the marine environment and ensuring good practices. Working in this direction guarantees us a viable and sustainable activity in the long term, as well as competitiveness in the international context, where the standards in terms of quality and environment are very demanding,” Bruno Leone said.
He commented that a news story identifying Ecuador as an exporter of sharks appeared last month, and he states that this is a strictly regulated activity, not a common practice among the country’s fishing fleets.
“However, it is true that by- catch sometimes occurs and some sharks are caught. This is something that happens all over the world, but in Ecuador it is clearly regulated by the competent authorities,” he said, adding that the purse seine fishery has a 2% by-catch rate, and the artisanal longline fishery’s by-catch rate can reach 20% – although the fishing sector is always looking for ways to innovate in order to reduce the by-catch as much as possible.
Ecuador has been a pioneer in promoting practices and improvements aimed at reducing this situation as much as possible. In addition to the Shark Action Plan, which has now become a State policy, there are some fishery improvement projects (FIP) promoted by companies of the sector.
“These projects share the same objective, to achieve an environmentally friendly fishing activity, through actions ranging from scientific research with the objective of reducing the impact of fishing on ecosystems, to the implementation of a code of good practices for by-catch management,” he said.
Finning has been banned in Ecuador since 1993.
“We were the first country to do so and it is a practice considered a crime and prosecuted as such. Sharks, as predators, are an essential part of our ecosystem, and therefore we have been doing intensive work to protect them and we will continue to do so,” Bruno Leone said.