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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Brazil seizes 28.7 tons of endangered shark fins in likely largest confiscation in history

Brazil seized 28.7 tons of shark fins this week from the illegal killing of more than 10,000 sharks, including a species on the country’s endangered list, the government said in a news release Tuesday. 

The seizure was part of the government’s Operation Makaira to combat illegal fishing and the fins came from approximately 4,400 Blue sharks and 5,600 Shortfin mako sharks, the latter of which is endangered, and “represents a considerable environmental impact,” according to Ibama, Brazil’s environmental protection agency. 

Targeted fishing for sharks is illegal in Brazil, the agency said. 

Ibama said the fins, confiscated on Monday almost entirely at a single exporting company in the southern coastal state of Santa Catarina, were allegedly expected to be illegally sold to Asia, which the agency said is the main consumer market. Shark fins are considered a delicacy in Asia. 

Schmitt said the sharks had been illegally caught in various locations along the Brazilian coast but mostly in the south. 

A person holding a severed shark fin

The head of Ibama said the sharks had been illegally caught in various locations along the Brazilian coast but mostly in the south.  (Ibama)

“Ibama has been monitoring the trade and export of shark fins and we identified the volume, the large amount of these fins being sold, mainly to Asia,” Schmitt added. “In Brazil, there is practically no consumption of this type of product. As a result of this large trade alert, we began to investigate and verify the origin, which companies were trading and where these companies were acquiring the vessels. We did the entire reverse chain of production, where it was possible to verify the irregularities practiced.”

Schmitt said the suspects were “finning” the sharks, meaning they cut the fin off a live shark then would throw the rest of the animal back into the ocean.

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“This action is very emblematic because it symbolizes the return of Ibama to the protection of the marine environment and especially the protection of the illegal fish trade in the country,” Schmitt said, according to Reuters.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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