Hong Kong seizes 26 tonnes of illegal shark fins from mostly endangered species
A sad record: On April 28th and May 4th 2020, a total of 26 tonnes of dried shark fins was seized in two shipping containers in Hong Kong. It is the largest shark fin haul ever reported and more than twice the amount of shark fins seized in all of 2019. The total market value of the fins is estimated at around 8.9 Million HK$ – approximately 1.06 million €.
According to custom officials, the shark fins were removed from around 38.500 endangered sharks – 31.000 thresher sharks (Alopias vulpinus) and 7.500 silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis). Both species are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and are protected by CITES, an international convention on the trade with endangered species. Only a small number of fins from unprotected shark species were detected, most likely for cover.
The containers filled with 773 nylon bags of unlabelled dried shark fins were declared to hold “pescado seco”, Spanish for dried fish. It was the use of Spanish instead of English in the declaration form that raised the officials suspicion.
Both containers were shipped from Ecuador to the same logistics company in Hong Kong. The 57-year old owner of the company was subsequently arrested in connection to the seizure. For now, he has been granted bail, but investigations are still ongoing.
The maximum fine for importing and exporting of endangered species is 10 million HK$ and a prison sentence of 10 years under the protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance in Hong Kong.