Saturday, November 10, 2007



Dear President Correa:

I am writing to you personally to implore you to re-instate Decree 2130 to ban illegal shark fishing and shark finning, not just in the Galapagos Islands but throughout the territorial waters of Ecuador.

I am a shark photographer, and I have been visiting the Galapagos regularly since 1997. As a diver I could see for myself every time I returned to the islands that the shark populations in the archipelago are dwindling at an alarming rate.

You are well aware of the fact that sharks play an essential role in the oceans, and that removing them will have catastrophic consequences for the delicately balanced marine biodiversity.

I am sure you also know that most sharks are being fished for their fins. One does not have to be an activist to be highly alarmed about the ongoing controversy: shark fin soup versus the health of the oceans. Unfortunately, because of the huge amounts of money involved in the international shark fin trade, no sensible compromise seems to be feasible - it is either or.

While I fully appreciate that the local fishermen have their own demands which you, as president of all Ecuadoreans, have to take into consideration, I plead with you to protect the sharks of the Galapagos, and of the mainland coasts, from human depredation.

As in other parts of the world, shark tourism has developed into an interesting alternative source of generating foreign exchange and creating many jobs. Being an avid recreational diver I can attest to the incredible attraction of the marine life of the Galapagos.

What I have seen in South Africa and in the Bahamas in terms of marine eco-tourism could easily be developed in Ecuador as well. Apart from being home to a fauna not found anywhere else on our planet, the Galapagos could become a mecca for shark divers from all over the world.

The Galapagos without sharks would quickly turn into an underwater wasteland only comparable to the after-effects of an almost unimaginable natural catastrophe.

Mr. President, you have the authority to save the Galapagos from an ecologocal disaster which will negatively affect Ecuador' image as a top international tourist destination. The power to make a difference lies in your hands. I trust that you will not waste it.

I am sure that the majority of your fellow Ecuadoreans will feel the way the world community does about the uniqueness of the Enchanted Islands, and the need to keep this treasure intact for future generations.

Please act in the interest of your country, and of those who love it, both Ecuadoreans and foreigners.

Thank you for listening to me.

Best personal wishes.

Respectfully yours,

Wolfgang Leander
Underwater Photographer

Cochabamba / Bolivia

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