Smugglers fail to slip past Hong Kong customs officials as their live eels and shark fins are seized at airport

More than 100 kilograms of endangered species confiscated after two women arrive from Istanbul

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2016, 2:19pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2016, 3:17pm

Diplomats and conservationists toured the wildlife trading hub of Hollywood Road to witness first-hand the scale of consumer demand in Hong Kong last night as customs officers confiscated shark fins from two travellers at the International Airport.

Customs seized more than 100 kilograms of suspected European eels and dried shark fins of suspected smooth hammerhead sharks – arresting two passengers on Monday night, in suspected smuggling, the kind delegates who toured Central and Sheung Wan yesterday saw through shop front windows.

Among the wildlife delegates, in town for a summit discussing how tackle the appetite of buying products of endangered species, Resson Kantai-Duff, from Kenyan-based Save the Elephants, commented on the tour: “Walking around, it is very crushing to think about the elephants died, illegally killed, that is there.”

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It was the second such seizure in four days at the airport, according to the Customs and Excise Department.

The latest haul was made on Monday night when officers conducted customs clearance on two women.

The two arrived from Santiago de Compostela in Spain via Istanbul, Turkey, according to the department.

“During the clearance, customs officers found about 63kg of suspected European eels in the passengers’ four pieces of check-in baggage,” the department said in a statement.

Separately, about 46 kilograms of suspected dried fins of smooth hammerhead sharks were found inside an unclaimed bag at the airport. Officers were still investigating where the fins came from.

A source with knowledge of the investigation believed the live eels and dried shark fins were destined for the mainland.

According to the department, the three cases were handed over to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for follow-up investigation.

Last Friday, customs officers seized 91kg of suspected European eels in six pieces of check-in baggage and arrested two incoming passengers – a man and a woman – at the airport. The pair arrived from Vigo, Spain via Madrid and Amsterdam.

According to the department, European eels and smooth hammerhead sharks are endangered species.

Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing an endangered species without a licence is liable to a maximum penalty of a HK$5 million fine and two years in jail.

This story has been amended as the original incorrectly identified the interviewee Resson Kantai-Duff from Kenyan-based Save the Elephants.