ARRECIFE – In Lanzarote, a company is promoting illegal shark fishing as an exciting attraction. Environmentalists and animal lovers are shocked.
The Extreme Fishing Territory company has turned capturing protected marine animals into a lucrative business. Visitors have the opportunity to participate in what they describe as an “adventure for monster hunters” for €150.
The case came to light when the Cabildo, Lanzarote’s island government, transferred the matter to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for the Environment. The suspect, a businessman from Zamora, proudly posted photos and videos of his captures on social media. Furthermore, he asked visitors to pay €150 for the chance to catch endangered shark species such as hammerhead sharks, angelfish and mantrays.
According to the charges filed by the environmental organisation Latitud Azul and the Integral Climate Action Organisation ADACIS, Extreme Fishing Territory has not only sold protected species from recreational fishing but also carried out illegal activities. These include the use of vehicles on the beaches where the fishing took place, the glorification of fishing for protected species via social media and even the use of drones during the activities.
Authorities have tried to find out the suspect’s version, but so far he has not responded. However, after his illegal activities came to light, many of the photos and videos he posted on social media have been removed. But this was not before prosecutors managed to collect dozens of pieces of evidence. These images show how customers pose with the captured animals during the day and at night. There’s even a photo of the company’s owner biting a shark’s fin.
ElDiario.es writes that this shocking case has also attracted attention outside Spain. The lure of the so-called “monster hunting” has attracted ignorant tourists, who were unaware of the illegal and harmful practices taking place.
Illegal fishing has been going on since 2020
Seprona, the environmental division of the Guardia Civil, has opened an extensive investigation and is currently collecting evidence to take criminal action against the suspect. Furthermore, it turns out that this range of illegal fishing activities has been going on since 2020. In the Facebook posts in which Benéitez promotes his services, he claims to offer excursions not only in Lanzarote but also in other areas such as Ceuta, Gibraltar, South Africa, Cape Verde, Angola and Mozambique.
‘Incredible fishing adventure’ for €150
Customer comments published on the Trip Advisor platform reveal that the suspect is asking for up to €150 for around 10 hours of “extreme fishing”. These excursions take place both during the day and at night. Some clients even praise the experience as an opportunity to catch a real monster and fight the battle of a lifetime.
The company itself promotes the activity as an ‘incredible fishing adventure’ along the coasts and beaches of the island, with an extraordinary diversity of native and visiting species. Furthermore, they provide transportation and fishing equipment, claiming that their guide will be present throughout.
What happens to the captured animals after taking photos is still unknown. However, experts believe that capturing and bringing these animals to the surface could cause irreversible damage, even if they are eventually released back into their natural habitat.
Protected sharks in the photo
The Canary Islands Fisheries Act prohibits the practice and also stipulates that accidentally caught species subject to a catch ban must be immediately returned to the sea. However, the photos collected as evidence show that the captive animals were not immediately released, but were used to take pictures with customers. This indicates that the fishing was deliberately targeting the targeted species, and not by accident.
Red List of Threatened Species
Latitud Azul’s suit specifically names the identified species in the photos and their conservation status. These include the blue shark, which is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The mantle ray and hammerhead shark are also on the same list. Experts emphasize that in a time of global environmental crisis, when the oceans are threatened by pollution and overfishing, mistreating endangered and endangered species is unacceptable.
Government must take strict action
Ezequi el Navío, nature lover and environmental consultant on behalf of the ADACIS Association, calls for determined action by government agencies, regulatory bodies, the scientific community, social groups and citizens to address such harmful practices.
The investigation of the Guardia Civil and Seprona is still ongoing, and it is not yet known what criminal action will be taken against the suspect and the Extreme Fishing Territory company.