Brazil seizes record number of illegal shark fins

GREENOCK, SCOTLAND - MARCH 05: Seagulls follow the Guide Me prawn trawler in Loch Long on March 5, 2019 in Greenock, Scotland. Scotland’s live seafood industry is facing the probability of extra paperwork at border controls, if the UK crashes out of the European Union without any trade deal. The costs could potentially run into many millions of pounds each year even if the European Union’s stringent requirements for certificates are disregarded by transporters. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

OAN’s Roy Francis
11:22 AM – Friday, June 23, 2023

Brazilian authorities reported that they have seized almost 29 metric tons of illegally obtained shark fins on Monday, which were meant to be exported to Asia.


Ibama, Brazil’s environmental protection agency said that the number of fins was the largest confiscation of its kind, and that it represented the death of around 10,000 sharks of two species, the blue and the shortfin mako shark. The shortfin mako shark had been placed on Brazil’s national list of endangered species in May.

“These apprehensions on an integrated basis represent the largest recorded in the world,” the agency said. “Especially considering it is a seizure at the source where the sharks are caught.”

The seizure was part of the Brazilian government’s Operation Makaira, which targeted the illegal fishing in Brazil.

The agency’s head of environmental protection Jair Schmitt said that the operation that had seized the fins had targeted two different companies, however, multiple other companies are still under investigation.

One of the companies is an exporting company in the southern state of Santa Catarina, which was responsible for 27.6 metric tons of fins. The other 1.1 tons were seized from the second company at the São Paulo International Airport.

“This practice is already recurrent in Brazil. We had some years ago the finding of about seven or eight metric tons of shark, seized in Pará state, with a similar method of finning,” he said.

Finning refers to the method of cutting off the fins from the sharks and then throwing the rest of the animal back into the ocean.

“Ibama has been monitoring the trade and export of shark fins and we identified the volume, the large amount of these fins being sold, mainly to Asia,” Schmitt added. “In Brazil, there is practically no consumption of this type of product. As a result of this large trade alert, we began to investigate and verify the origin, which companies were trading and where these companies were acquiring the vessels. We did the entire reverse chain of production, where it was possible to verify the irregularities practiced.”

The alleged shark fishermen had also caused the death of thousands of seabirds according to Ibama due to the fact that they had not followed the mandatory safety measures which are in place to prevent their capture.

“In addition to fishing for sharks, which is prohibited, this illegal practice also causes the death of several seabirds, including some endangered species,” Schmitt added. “So, environmental damage is not only related to sharks, but also to marine fauna.”

Sea Shepherd Brazil, a marine conservation organization had urged the Brazilian government to ban the shark fin trade and shark meat imports into the country.

Operation Makaira was meant to show that one of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva’s priorities is protecting the environment and indigenous species around Brazil.

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