While the world as a whole is struggling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that criminal elements have been carrying on business as usual. Hong Kong customs officers this week just scored their largest seizure of shark fins when they discovered 26 tons of fins harvested from roughly 38,500 endangered sharks.
The fins were stored inside two shipping containers that came from Ecuador and had arrived within 10 days of each other. In all, the illegal cargo was worth nearly $1.1 million, reported the South China Morning Post.
“Each consignment consisting of 13 tonnes broke the previous record seizure of 3.
8 tonnes of controlled shark fins made in 2019,” said assistant superintendent Danny Cheung Kwok-yin of the Customs and Excise Department’s marine enforcement group in an interview with the outlet.
The two shipping containers each contained more than 300 nylon bags that had dried shark fins sliced off from about 31,000 thresher and 7,500 silky sharks, the outlet added.
Officials became suspicious of the shipments when they noticed Spanish language markings on the boxes.
“It’s unusual for some imported goods to be described in foreign languages other than English,” Cheung said, adding that this incident was not the first time shark fins had been shipped from Ecuador.
The Post also reported that the owner of the Hong Kong logistics firm that received the shipment was arrested. The 57-year-old man is currently out on bail while the investigation continues.
“It’s shocking to see such a big smuggling case in the city,” Gloria Lai Pui-yin, a senior conservation office with environmental group WWF-Hong Kong, told Oceanographic Magazine. “We need to remain vigilant and ensure there is better oversight in the city.”
It’s clear that the precarious state of the world’s sharks is of no concern to criminal elements whose only goal is to make money by any means possible. The coronavirus outbreak has not slowed them down so law enforcement should neither relax at this time.
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