In an important Customs operation of the National Superintendence of Tax Administration (Sunat) in Callao, it intervened a record shipment of shark fins whose origin generated strong suspicions.
About 25,000 fins of animals slaughtered in the seas of Peru and Ecuador were destined for China.
The operation uncovered between 100 and 150 sacks containing thousands of dorsal fins of species that have been preliminarily identified as belonging to the blue shark (prionace glauca) and thresher shark (alopius pelagicus), among others included in the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
"The price of this suspicious export of fins seems low (US $ 630 thousand) compared to the value of gold, wood and other raw materials sent abroad, but the ultimate damage to nature and the marine ecosystem is invaluable," said one of those responsible for the investigations.
According to the investigation, the companies involved would be Angaff SAC, Huiman SAC, Lamarqocha Inversiones SAC based in Lima; Inversiones Perú Flippers of Callao EIRL; and Marea Blue EIRL from Tumbes. All companies, young, dedicated to imports from Ecuador and exports to mainland China and Hong Kong, markets that sell shark fins in the gastronomic business or industrialize them for their supposed aphrodisiac properties.
Currently, Peru is the third largest exporter of shark fins in the world and the largest Latin American supplier of this product to China, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
According to Sunat Customs investigations, the route of shark fin shipments begins in Ecuador –which prohibited any type of fishing or extractive activity aimed at this species in 2007–, reaches Peru and ends in the port of Callao or in another on the north coast of the country. In these places, a group of local exporters, after coordinating with their suppliers, wait for the illicit cargo to send it to its final destination in Asia.
Sources from the sector that fights against the trafficking of shark fins revealed the inaction of the State in the fight against organizations dedicated to the extraction and smuggling of aquatic species in danger of extinction. The entities in charge of articulating these actions are the National Police, the Special Prosecutor's Office in Environmental Matters and the National Fisheries Health Agency (Sanipes) of the Ministry of Production.
The Public Ministry can take the case to the Judiciary for the crime of illegal extraction of aquatic species. Asked about the usual actions in these processes, the public prosecutor of the Ministry of the Environment Julio Guzmán said that if the case were to be prosecuted and ended in a sentence (the crime is punishable by up to five years in prison) the charge could be incinerated for not have any gastronomic or industrial use in Peru.
The trafficking of these species –whose real origin is “washed” in exportation– continues at a global level despite the fact that their capture has restrictions in certain countries and that it could lead to extinction if their trade is not controlled, according to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). At the Cites Conference of the Parties - to be held in Sri Lanka in 2019 - Peru's proposal to carry out an inventory of the fins of these species could be approved with the aim of limiting permits for their trade.
Peru has become the exit route for countries with prohibitions such as Ecuador due to the high demand of the Asian market. According to the Department of Fishery Products of PromPerú, the country has exported more than 360 tons of shark fins in the last two years, which were priced at US $ 10 million in FOB value (value used to calculate export amounts).
By Óscar Castilla C. and Leslie Moreno Custodio
With information from: