SAN JOSE (COSTA RICA)- Inspectors from the National Animal Health Service (SENASA) of Costa Rica found a large amount of shark fins from protected species among air cargo that was to be exported to Hong Kong.
The illegal fins were found in a sample inspection of three sacks of shark fins to be exported via UPS and China Airlines. Among the fins were species including the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) and several types of hammerheads (Sphyrna).
Shark fin training
The fins were found during a training session that the inspector had with ocean conservation group Pretoma. The training helps officials to identify shark fins that belong to protected species and separate them from those that are permitted for export.
Export of fins
Unfortunately Costa Rica does allow the export of shark fins from non-protected species as long as the sharks were landed at docks with fins naturally attached to the body.
Both UPS and China Airlines fully cooperated with the subsequent investigation, but according to Pretoma President Randall Arauz in the Tico Times, the fin discovery points to loopholes in the shark fin cargo inspection process.
Sharks and their fins are required to go through several steps of inspection before even reaching the airport. The final step, at a processing plant, is overseen by a veterinarian who is required to examine the cargo to determine if banned species are among the fins.