Many fishing boats have been seized with bulks of shark fins during inspections by the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources Enforcement Division.
Peter Eves, who heads this division explained that they have referred their latest case to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Chinese and Taiwanese fishing boats were found with loads of shark fins and meat hidden in the “hull” of the fishing boats.
NOAA will be pursuing prosecution of the violators.
Local law prohibits the possession, delivery, carrying, transport or shipment of shark products.
Each violation is punishable by a fine up to $500 and up to 6 months imprisonment. A business entity is subject to a fine of $1,000 fine.
Eves said that this wasn’t the shark fining violation.
In past years, they have found bulks of shark fins in purse seiners and local alias.
The DMWR Enforcement division also has pending cases with commercial fishing of sea cumumbers which is currently banned.
Eves said they are still coming across the fishing of large quantities of sea cucumbers, which they suspect is for commercial use, Sea cucumbers are a delicacy in Asian restaurants,
The penalty for the use of one sea cucumber for commercial purposes is $1,000.
Eves said not many residents are aware of that.
DMWR has received reports of people selling sea cucumbers to the Chinese restaurants but they have not been able to catch the culprits,
Eves says language is a barrier in trying to investigate such cases.
DMWR finds it a challenge to obtain accurate information from the restaurant owners as to who provided their sea cucumbers.
There’s no penalty when sea cucumbers are collected for private consumption.
In addition to the value of sea cucumbers as a food source for humans, these invertebrates also play an important role in filtering sediments and recycling nutrients back into the food web.
Likewise, the eggs of sea cucumbers provide nutrients for many marine species.