The captain and helmsman were sentenced to three years, while 16 crew-members received 18-month sentences. The other five crew were declared innocent.

The vessel’s operator was fined US $308,000 in compensation for environmental damage, and the boat was confiscated.

The Don Gerard V’s illegal activities were detected and monitored using the Galapagos National Park Service’s VMS system, which was procured and installed by environmental organisations WildAid and Conservation International in 2009.

Galapagos Park Rangers and Ecuadorian Navy officials intercepted the vessel two miles within the reserve using a patrol vessel and aircraft. A total of 156 silky, blue and thresher sharks were among the catch found in the holds.

The sentencing was the second for illegal transport and possession of protected species since last August, when a Chinese cargo vessel was caught and sentences imposed after more than 6000 sharks were found aboard.

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