UPDATE ON THE VIOLENCE IN THE GALAPAGOS
gregorh at ucla.edu
Sat Nov 18 16:00:42 EST 2000
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 17:33:03 -0800
From: Andrew Christie <Andrew at seashepherd.org>
Reply-To: seashepherd <seashepherd at lists.estreet.com>
To: seashepherd <seashepherd at lists.estreet.com>
Subject: UPDATE ON THE VIOLENCE IN THE GALAPAGOS
BULLETIN OF THE COMMITTEE OF EMPLOYEES OF THE CHARLES DARWIN
Puerto Ayora, 17th November 2000
In view of the serious events which are happening in our islands through
the actions of a group of violent fishermen, the committee of employees
the Charles Darwin Research Station wishes to send this message to the
In the first place we want to express our emphatic rejection of the acts
of violence and vandalism which have taken place on the island of
against the buildings of the Station and the National Park Service and
threats suffered by our employees at the hands of a group of fishermen.
In support of our institution and its laudable goals of undertaking
science and education for the conservation of the Galpagos Islands, at
committee meeting this afternoon we have decided to work voluntarily
weekend and whenever necessary in order to deal with this tense
situation, which we are enduring as best as we are able.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS IN GALAPAGOS
Charles Darwin Research Station
17 November, 2000
Mission Statement of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos
Isles: "To provide the knowledge and support to ensure the conservation
the environment and biodiversity of the archipelago of Galapagos,
scientific research and complementary actions."
Since 1996 the Charles Darwin Research Station has carried out detailed
monitoring of catches of the spiny lobster in Galapagos and has been a
member of the Participatory Management Group (a group consisting of
representatives from the fishery, tourism and conservation sectors)
its creation in 1997.
For the 2000 fishing season, with minimal data, the Participatory
Management Group agreed on a quota of 50 tons of lobster, on the basis
that the catch has fluctuated around this level for many years without
putting the resource in danger, although, on a number of occasions, it
considered that lobster was being overexploited. Moreover it was
that CPUE (catch-per-unit-effort, calculated as the daily amount of
lobster taken by a fisherman) would be reassessed during the fishing
season, to consider an increase in the quota. On that basis the
season was opened on September 1st, 2000, and closed when it reached the
ton quota on October 31st, 2000.
Thus, whilst in the year 1999, 500 fishermen (including divers and crew)
participated in the fishery and 54 tons of lobster were caught in 4
months, in the year 2000 the fishermen achieved a catch of 54 tons in
2 months. However, in San Cristobal the fishery cooperative had allowed
new fishermen and boats to participate this year - 939 (including 486
divers), nearly double the number of fishermen from last year. When the
quota was reached well before the determined date, it was obvious that
large increase in the number of fishers enabled the quota to be reached
a much shorter time.
The Participatory Management Group met again on Tuesday, November 7th.
After analyzing the available data of the lobster fishery, they proposed
an increase in the lobster quota. This was unacceptable to the fishery
sector, which rejected any attempt at negotiation, their sole demand
to continue fishing until December 31st, regardless of the amount taken.
Following these events, the situation in Galapagos became more volatile,
with each of the three main inhabited islands experiencing different
violent and confrontational incidents, as detailed below:
Isabela: On November 13th, the offices of the National Park, of the
Charles Darwin Research Station and of SICGAL on Isabela were occupied
demonstrators, as was the tortoise breeding centre, from which some baby
tortoises were removed by the fishermen. In addition, the municipality
buildings were occupied.
Since then, the offices of the National Park and the Station have been
vandalized and everything in them destroyed and the Station staff
threatened. The Municipal Library was also destroyed. The head of the
National Park offices on Isabela, along with two of the staff, were
rescued by navy special forces and arrived in Santa Cruz in the early
hours of November 17th; the others arrived in the afternoon the same
The house of the Head of the Park has also been vandalized, his family's
belongings have been taken, and his house totally wrecked.
San Cristobal: Also on November 13th, the offices of the Charles Darwin
Research Station in San Cristobal were closed following blockades on the
part of fishermen, who also took over the installations of the Park as
well as the offices of the Interpretation Centre. The Park and Station
offices remain closed.
On Tuesday the 14th groups of fishermen attempted to prevent tourists
landing at visitor sites on San Cristobal and Espanola. Due to action
the navy, they were not able to carry out their intentions, but during
these confrontations, tear gas was used and two fishermen were wounded.
Santa Cruz: On Monday the 13th due to the threat of possible action by
fishermen, the activities of the Charles Darwin Research Station were
disrupted during the afternoon. The National Park and Charles Darwin
Research Station offices were closed on the afternoon of November 14th,
with a police guard deployed at the main entrance. Due to the threat of
march by fishermen in the afternoon, police blockaded the entrance with
On Wednesday the 15th the fishermen prevented tourists and local people
using the municipal dock to embark or disembark from their boats, and
fishermen in fast launches chased some tourist boats that left the
The situation remained thus until Thursday, November 16th, when the
offices were reopened following the Santa Cruz fishermen's acceptance of
the increased quota and their removal of the blockade.
A peaceful march, organised by the Park, to reject the vandalism carried
out by fishermen on Isabela was planned for Friday morning, but was
suspended due to threats and a lack of guarantees for the physical
security of the participants.
Charles Darwin Research Station
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