Marshalls fine Japanese ship in shark fin ban
MAJURO—The Marshall Islands has fined a Japanese-operated fishing vessel $125,000 for violating a ban on shark fishing, officials said, in the first levy of its kind in the territory’s waters.
Enforcement officer Marcella Tarkwon said a search of the ship Satsuma uncovered 27,000 kilograms (60,000 pounds) of shark carcasses and 680 kilograms of shark fins.
The Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority said the fine was the first imposed since the introduction of a ban on trading shark fins across its vast waters late last year.
“The fine was based on it being the first offense and the value of the shark on board,” she said.
Tarkwon said dozens of vessels, most of them legally fishing for tuna in the Marshalls’ 1.9 million square kilometers (750,000 square miles) maritime exclusion zone, had been inspected and found to have shark aboard.
She said follow-up inspections had found warnings were proving effective, with no sign of sharks when officials reboarded the vessels.
Demand for shark fins has boomed in recent years to meet the growing popularity from Asia’s burgeoning middle classes for the delicacy shark fin soup.
The Pew Environment Group estimates more than 70 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, leaving up to a third of open-water species on the brink of extinction.
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