According to AFP and weekly magazine, this week the highest seizure of shark fins in the past two years was reported. 26 tons of fins corresponding to at least 38,500 sharks were found in two containers from Ecuador to Hong Kong. There is an indication that there is illegal trafficking of fins from vulnerable shark species through Ecuadorian territory from Colombia.
The authorities in Hong Kong assured that the demand for shark fins is increasing and that the previous year (2019) the record number of seizures had been 3.8 tons in 2019.
The fins belong to fox sharks (Alopias superciliosus) or silky sharks (Cahcharhinus Falciformis), two species considered vulnerable by the International Union for the conservation of nature.
The seizure arrested a 57-year-old man who was subsequently released on bail.
Shark populations are under constant pressure, mainly due to fishing for consumption. The way to obtain the fin is by fishing the fish, cutting and releasing the mutilated fish into the water. Dried shark fins are used to make other types of soup in southern China.
In Colombia it has been prohibited since 2017, however, sources assure that there is illegal trafficking through Ecuadorian or Panamanian territory to Asian countries. “The illegal product leaves Tumaco” assures Nicolás del Castillo, Director of the AUNAP (National Aquaculture and Fisheries Authority) during a press conference on October 30, 2019. He also affirms that foreign fishermen are not the responsibles, but Colombian fishermen who they do “the trap”.
The commercial value of shark fin in Asian markets is $ 25 to $ 300 in short supply. In some Asian countries, they claim that shark fin soup is an aphrodisiac and a symbol of power and luxury. Around 50 million fins are traded globally each year despite their potential mercury content.
“We have 37 shark species in the country, which are fishing resources that can be exploited commercially. Of these 37, five are in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (Cites) of them which has been part of Colombia since 1981. In order to take advantage of these species, you must have the Cites permit issued by the Ministry of the Environment, and currently, they are not being processed, “said Del Castillo.