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  Giant tortoises held as hostages
Updated 27 February 2004, 15.07
Giant tortoise
Several giant tortoises and more than 30 scientists have been held hostage by fishermen in the Galapagos Islands.

The fishermen have taken them hostage because they are angry about being banned from fishing for sharks using long fishing lines.

But local environmental campaigners say the ban is important for the islands.

The Galapagos, a cluster of islands 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, in South America, are home to exotic sea lions, iguanas, tortoises and birds.

Giant tortoise

The fishermen, who are also cross about large cruise shops being banned from docking on the islands, have surrounded the Charles Darwin research station, known for breeding giant tortoises.

They are refusing to let food or supplies be brought into the compound.

Inside the compound, on the island of Santa Cruz, are a colony of the rare tortoises and 33 people, who are mainly scientists.

Safety worries

The fishermen's protest has been peaceful so far but there are big worries about the safety of the scientists and the tortoises.

Campaigners have told the government of Ecuador to stick with the bans to keep the local environment healthy.

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