MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A whopping 1,400 pounds of shark fins were recently confiscated during an inspection at Miami International Airport’s cargo facility, and federal authorities are calling this one of the largest shark fin seizures in the country.
The shark fins, which have an estimated value of $700,000, are being stored at a warehouse on Northwest 82nd Avenue.
Authorities said they were seized on Jan. 24.
“The shipment originated in South America and it was in transit in the U.S. on its way to a final destination in Asia,” Eva Lara, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said.
During a joint investigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection were informed that someone was smuggling the fins on a commercial plane.
Some of the fins come from protected species like the hammerhead, thresher and silky.
“Fins are cut off while the animal is still alive and the dismembered body is discarded overboard,” Lara said. “The shark sinks to the bottom of the ocean and slowly suffocates.”
The animal cruelty aspect isn’t the only reason why federal authorities are trying to stop the practice of shark finning.
“An estimated 1 million sharks are killed every year for their fins,” Lara said. “Shark populations have decreased by up to 90 percent in some species in just the last 15 years.”
Shark finning is illegal in the U.S., but it’s legal elsewhere in the world.
In China, for example, shark fin soup is considered a delicacy.
“Studies will tell you that there is no scientific evidence that shark fin soup has any medicinal benefits to humans whatsoever,” Zach Mann, of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said.
So far, no arrests have been made in this case, but federal authorities are investigating to find out who was responsible for the shark finning on the vending, shipping and receiving end.