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Brazil Seizes More Than 30 Tons of Illegal Shark Fins—a Shocking New Record
By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, June 23, 2023 @ 10:00 AM (EST)
Source: Live Science


Officials in Brazil have seized shark fins weighing more than 28,700 kilograms—over 30 tons. Officials at Ibama, a federal agency under Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment, estimate that about 10,000 sharks—mostly blue sharks and shortfin makos—would have been killed to produce the massive haul. It could be the world’s largest-ever confiscation of illegal shark fins.

Shark fishing is banned across Brazil, but the apex predators are still illegally caught by fishers in certain areas. According to an Ibama statement (Portuguese), nearly all the fins (more than 95%) were confiscated from a single unnamed exporting company in Santa Catarina, which is on the southern coast of Brazil, while the remainder was seized from another company, also unnamed, operating out of the São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport.

“Ibama has monitored the trade and export of shark fins and we have identified the volume, the large amount of these fins being marketed, mainly to Asia, which is the main consumer market,” Jair Schmitt, director of Ibama, said in the statement. Across Asia, shark fin is sold as powder or in capsules, or for use in shark fin soup, with baseless claims that it nourishes the blood, improves appetite, boosts sexual potency, or even prevents cancer and heart disease.

In December last year, President Biden signed into law the “Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act,” which prohibits the commercial trade of shark fins and products containing shark fins in the U.S. However, millions of sharks—73 million according to one study—are estimated to be killed annually to supply the shark fin market.
 

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