Brazilian authorities announced on Tuesday the seizure of over 28 tons of shark fins destined for Asia, where they are highly prized, in what is believed to be the largest operation of its kind in the world, according to environmental agency Ibama.
The 28.7 tonnes of fins represent some 10,000 blue (Prionace glauca) and mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) sharks, the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources said in a statement, adding that they had been caught “in several regions along the Brazilian coast”.
“This is probably the biggest catch of this type of product in history”, said Jair Schmitt, one of the agency’s directors, quoted in the release.
Almost all the fins were seized from a company in the southern state of Santa Catarina, while the remainder, which another company was preparing to export, was intercepted at Sao Paulo airport in the southeast. Other companies could be involved in the trafficking, according to Ibama.
The fins were to be illegally exported to Asia, where the trade, centered around Hong Kong, is worth around 465 million euros. The fins can sell for $1,000 a kilo in East Asia, and are used to make soups that are highly prized in traditional Chinese cuisine.
At the end of May, Brazil added the mako shark to its list of endangered species. This followed the historic decision taken in November in Panama at the Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to protect some 50 shark species threatened by finning in Asia.