Seizure of Dried Fins of CITES Listed Sharks– 22.03.2021

Biodiversity, Cultural and National Heritage Protection (BCNP) Unit of Sri Lanka Customs has seized a shipment containing dried shark fins belong to two (02) Shark species of which the international trade is restricted under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). These fins have been found when the BCNP officers examined a Hong Kong bound 20-foot container said to contain dried shark fins at the Export Facilitation Centre of Sri Lanka Customs on 22.03.2021.

The fins have been identified as belonging to the Shortfin Mako Shark (Scientific name: Isurus oxyrinchus) and the Hammerhead Shark species (Scientific name: Sphyrna spp.). Both these species are included in the IUCN Red List of Species and also listed under the Appendix II of the CITES because they are likely to be threatened with extinction in near future due to the overexploitation. Therefore, a prior obtained CITES Export Permit is required for them to be legally exported from Sri Lanka. In this case, the exporter has failed to produce a CITES Export Permit for the dried fins of the two species concerned. In total, about 250 kilograms of dried shark fins belong to the said two species have been found. On average this quantity accounts to about 250 – 300 sharks. The estimated market value for these fins would be more than Rs. 2 Million and they are a highly sought-after ingredient in the luxurious Cantonese cuisine, especially in the Shark Fin Soup.

Attempting to export CITES listed fishery products without a valid CITES export permit is a violation according to the Fish and Fishery Products Export, Import and Re-export Management Regulations 2017 published under the Extra Ordinary Gazette Notification No. 2023/51 dated 15.06.2017.

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