Wildlife inspectors at the Miami Port of Entry made quite an unusual discovery last Monday: a shipment containing 1,400 pounds of dried shark fins.
Officials say the commercial value of the fins is between $700,000 and $1 million.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the contraband was found in 18 boxes on January 24. Officials believe the shipment originated in South America and was probably bound for Asia, where shark fins are used in soup and medicine.
The shipment was falsely declared. Officials explain that it violated the Lacey Act, which prohibits illegal wildlife trade, and included species that are protected from exploitation by CITES, The Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
No charges have been filed yet, and the investigation is ongoing.
Up to 73 million sharks are placed into the global fin trade annually, according to reports.
Oceana explains that shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, although buying and selling the fins is not. For that reason, the organization is asking Congress to pass the “Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act” in order to ban the practice across the country.
“The seizure in Miami of 1,400 pounds of shark fins being shipped from Latin America to Asia speaks to the worldwide crisis facing sharks. Up to 73 million of these majestic animals are butchered each year for their fins. The United States plays a key role as an international transit hub for shark fins,” says Sara Amundson, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “It is time for the U.S. Senate to pass the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. Sharks are worth more alive than in a bowl of soup.”