Illegal shipment of sea cucumbers discovered

During a baggage control operation at Baltra airport this week, the Galapagos National Park in coordination with the national police discovered an illegal shipment of approximately 3,600 sea cucumbers due to be shipped to mainland Ecuador.

The sea cucumbers were identified as two species: Isostichopus horrens and Isostichopus fuscus.  

The sea cucumber is protected within the Galapagos Marine Reserve and the fishing season for them is currently closed.

Sea cucumber © Vanessa Green

© Vanessa Green

Walter Bustos, director of the Galapagos National Park, said “the protection of species in an endangered or vulnerable state is a priority for the Ecuadorian State since this activity ensures the sustainability of resources in favour of the Galapagos community “.

Minister for the Environment, Daniel Ortega said his administration will maintain a frontal fight against the trafficking of protected species nationwide.

The Galapagos National Park has initiated investigations to identify the persons responsible.

Isostichopus fuscus, also known as the brown sea cucumber, is listed as endangered on the IUCN red list, due to a population decline of at least 60% across its entire range in the last 30-50 years. Isostichopus horrens is listed as data deficient as it is often misidentified. Previously not a high value species in fisheries, in Galapagos, this species has increased in value due to the decline of the brown sea cucumber.

Translated with permission from the Galapagos National Park.