sea shepherd - Galápagos

Some 960 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Archipelago is famed throughout the world for its unique plant and animal species. Sea Shepherd has always considered the Galápagos one of the world’s last untouched wildernesses. But even in this remote part of the world, human encroachment is taking a heavy toll on this fragile eco-system.

In 2011, Fair Projects spent a month alongside Sea Shepherd in Galápagos Islands, in order to produce a half-hour documentary which explores Sea Shepherds work which they carry out in cooperation with the local Government.

 
 

Whilst most known for their anti-whaling campaigns in Antarctica each Austral summer, Sea Shepherd Galápagos has been the organisations longest running full-time project, running alongside governmental efforts in protecting the islands since 1999. Their operations include an educational program, a legal program, and various projects which assist local authorities in monitoring & patrolling the Galápagos Marine Reserve.

The Sea Shepherd Galápagos team, headed by Alex Cornelissen.
School children receive education booklets from Sea Shepherd as part of their education program.

Fair Project's objective in the Galápagos was to document Sea Shepherds work in the Galápagos Islands, which in 2011 was relatively unknown by their supports as well as the wider world. With 1.2 million people tuning in to watch Animal Planet's 'Whale Wars' - a television show documenting Sea Shepherds Whale Defence Campaigns - we felt that their was no better time to focus on Sea Shepherds work in other parts of the world in order to expose their current audience to a wider marine conservation message.

Some of the charismatic & unique wildlife Fair Projects saw whilst in the Galapagos Islands. 

The Galápagos Marine Reserve covers 133,000 squared kilometres , but unfortunately its unique ecosystem attracts illegal fishing vessels from all across the world, who mainly come to fish sharks for their valuable fins as part of the growing shark fin trade. Whilst filming in the Galápagos, Sea Shepherd & Fair Projects were invited on board a recently captured illegal shark finning vessel - which had a total of 82 dead illegally caught sharks aboard - as it was being investigated by local authorities including the Navy and the National Park. The images & footage that Fair Projects captured were used as evidence against the vessel, the Reina Del Cisne, as well as featuring in the documentary.

Dead Thresher & Blue sharks lie on the deck of the Reina Del Cisne.

In order to combat illegal fishing in the Galápagos Marine Reserve, Sea Shepherd funded the purchase of & instalment of a complete Automatic Identification System (AIS) as well as the technological infrastructure required for the National Park & Navy to monitor ship movements from land. These 9 towers - installed on top of the 9 highest volcanoes & hills in the Galápagos - would provide 'eyes' for local authorities to monitor movement in their waters, assisting them in spotting & apprehending illegal fishing vessels. This multi-million dollar project was one of Sea Shepherds largest contributions to the Galápagos Islands, & Fair Projects was there to document the instalment of these AIS towers & the moment they were first switched on.

Images from the installation of the AIS system, led by Sea Shepherd crew member Marcel Wensween.

Since 2011, Sea Shepherd has continued to work with local authorities to find, arrest & prosecute illegal fishing vessels, as well as continuing to educate the youth of the Islands regarding the importance of sharks in the marine ecosystem.


FIND OUT MORE

To find out more about Sea Shepherd's work in the Galápagos Islands, visit the campaign website by clicking here.

To find out more about Sea Shepherd, visit their website by clicking here.