HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong has seized 26 tonnes of smuggled shark fins, sliced from some 38,500 endangered animals, in the largest bust of its kind in the southern Chinese city.
The record haul was discovered in two containers from Ecuador, and highlights the continued demand for shark fin, which is served at wedding banquets in many Chinese communities.
The city’s Customs Department unveiled the haul on Wednesday and said it smashed previous records.
“Each consignment consisting of 13 tonnes broke the previous record seizure of 3.8 tonnes of controlled shark fins made in 2019,” customs official Danny Cheung told reporters.
Most of the fins came from thresher and silky sharks, both endangered species. A 57-year-old man was arrested but has been released on bail pending further enquiries.
Some of the ocean’s most vital apex predators, shark populations have been decimated over the last few decades with finning and industrial long line fishing the main culprits.
Fishing fleets often cut the fin from the shark and then and throw the fatally maimed animal back in the sea to maximise profit.
The dried fins sell for considerable sums and are usually served in a glutinous soup at banquets.
The sale and consumption of shark fin is not illegal in Hong Kong, but must be licensed.