1,400 Pounds Of Shark Fins Seized At Miami Port
Wildlife inspectors have seized around 1,400 pounds of shark fins in a single Miami shipment.
Shark finning is a highly controversial (and largely illegal) practice that involves fishermen slicing the fins off sharks. They then keep the fins and toss the shark – often still alive – overboard, where they sink to the bottom of the sea, unable to breathe, unable to swim and open to the taking by other predators.
Across the US, 13 states and three territories have banned the trade, sale and possession of fins. However, they’re still flowing in to other areas – as witnessed by this recent ‘heinous’ haul.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service teamed up with Customs and Border Protection to find the shipment on January 24 in PortMiami, with 18 boxes packed to the brim with dried shark fins, weighing around 1,400 pounds (635 kilograms) in total.
Inspectors believe the shipment likely arrived from South America and was destined to head to Asia – where shark fin is both a lucrative trade and a traditional delicacy.
Bouncer Smith, a charter captain, told CBS Miami:
It is very big money stuff. It is very harmful to the ecology. This is one of the most heinous crimes in nature that we have seen. Whether it is rhino horns, elephant tusks, shark fin soup, they seem to be if you convince ‘em it’s hard to get, they want it all that much more.
Inspectors estimated the total commercial value of the shipment at anywhere between $700,000 and $1 million. However, no criminal charges have been announced as of yet, pending an investigation.
The shark fin trade is hugely prevalent across the world, with studies estimating more than 73 million sharks are killed each year as part of the marine ‘gold rush’.
In an earlier documentary about the shark fishing industry, Gordon Ramsay said: ‘It’s without doubt, the worst act of animal cruelty I’ve ever seen.’
While the trade of shark fins is banned in the UK and the EU, exports are technically still permitted – a July 2019 investigation by Greenpeace revealed more than 50 tonnes of fins have been sent out from Britain over the past two years, worth more than £300,000, according to the Independent.
Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK, said:
Many people will be gobsmacked to hear that Britain is fuelling a controversial global trade threatening a majestic predator that’s vital to life in our oceans. With tens of millions of sharks being killed every year, the UK government should do all it can to protect these creatures, starting with a ban on shark fin exports.
A spokeswoman for Defra said while the UK has ‘a strong track record in marine conservation… leaving the EU will give us an opportunity to consider further controls’.
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