CDNN :: Ecuador: Sharks and other politicians
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ECUADOR (20 Sep 2007) — Sharks do not evoke the same kind of cuddly feelings as dolphins or baby seals.
More than a billion Chinese continue to push the demand side of the shark fin market while environmentalists and politicans battle over the supply side.
But when last month Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, relaxed a ban on the trade in sharks' fins (a highly-prized delicacy in east Asia), he unleashed a storm of protest.
That was partly because his government ordered the arrest of a member of an American green group, for taking part in a police raid on fin traffickers.
But it was also because the episode highlighted an inconsistent approach to environmental policy by a government that has several green activists in its ranks.
On taking office in January, Mr Correa inherited a pressing environmental problem. For its size, Ecuador is the world's most biodiverse country.
With just 0.2% of the earth's land surface, it hosts 18% of its bird species. Tourism, much of it ecological, is now the third-biggest foreign-exchange earner...