Ecuador Seizes 200,000 Shark Fins

Police in the Ecuadorian port city of Manta say they have seized about 200,000 shark fins destined to be illegally exported to Asia where they would fetch up to $1.5m.

shark-fins-in-ecuadorPhotograph: Ecuador’s Attorney General/AP

Colonel Rommel Tapia, the head of the judicial police in Manta, said on Thursday nine properties were raided in the city and six people were arrested, including one of Chinese nationality. Those arrested face charges of damaging wildlife.

The interior minister, José Serrano, told the Democracia radio station that authorities in Ecuador had “dealt a major blow to an international network that trafficked shark fins”.

A spokesman for the Galapagos Conservation Trust said: “The seizure of so many shark fins on mainland Ecuador, just 1,000km away from the Galapagos Islands, is deeply distressing. Sharks play an essential role in the marine ecosystem and removing them can cause the entire marine ecosystem to collapse.

“It’s great news that the Ecuadorian authorities are tackling illegal shark fishing in their waters and the sale of illegal shark products, but it will take a truly international effort to put a stop to this global problem.”

Ecuadorian authorities believe that at least 300,000 sharks were killed by the traffickers, in one of the most egregious environmental crimes reported in the country in years.

WildAid, an organization that seeks to reduce demand for wildlife products, estimates that nearly 100 million sharks are killed every year with fins from up to 73 million used for shark fin soup, primarily to supply the market in Mainland China. Shark fins are coveted in Asia for medicinal and cooking purposes.

A pair of shark fins can sell for as much as US$700 per kg in Asia.

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