Five arrested in Panama over 6.8-ton record seizure of shark fins destined for Asia

Panama City, Jul 13 (EFE).- Five people have been arrested after Panamanian authorities seized a record 6.79 tons of shark fins destined for the Asian market, where their value could reach millions of dollars.

The fins were found in a container in the town of Capira, near the Panamanian capital, in an operation that involved 10 raids in three provinces.

“It is the first time that we have achieved such a high seizure of shark fins,” said Attorney General Javier Caraballo on Thursday.

With this operation, he added, authorities “send a clear message to the groups that are dedicated to exploiting the environment that we are not going to tolerate any type of activity that goes against the wildlife of our country.”

According to data from the National Police, in some Asian countries a kilogram of shark fins can cost more than $1,000.

“We are talking about the fact that there were more than 6.7 tons here. That is, we are talking about a highly lucrative activity that does terrible damage to the marine environment of our country,” said Caraballo.

National Police Director John Dornheim told EFE that the fins were found in “more than 245 bags already processed,” so it has affected “a significant number of animals” and done a great deal of ecological damage.

In this sense, the national director of the coast and seas of the Ministry of the Environment, Digna Barsallo, said it was “very unfortunate to see the amount of shark fin” seized and recalled that in Panama this practice of “finning is a crime. It is not allowed and is punished.”

Shark finning consists of catching sharks, cutting off their fins and discarding them, mutilated, back into the sea, where they sink and inevitably suffocate or bleed to death, or get eaten by other fish.

Director Dornheim made a call to the consciences of those who engage in this illegal practice, which generates a lot of money in the destination market but not in Panama, where he says tourism is more profitable.

The Prosecutor’s Office ordered the arrests over organized crime and crimes against wildlife, according to official information. EFE


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