HomeNewsBriefPeru Wildlife Agency Eases Export of Illegal Shark Fins
BRIEF

Peru Wildlife Agency Eases Export of Illegal Shark Fins

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 23 APR 2019 BY NATASHA CLANCY EN

Peru’s government agency entrusted with protecting endangered species is under investigation for collaborating with shark fin traffickers who export illegal product to Asian markets, shining a spotlight on the state’s complicity in this illicit catch.

An investigation by Ojo-Público has revealed how the the Ministry of Production (Ministerio de la Producción – PRODUCE), which is responsible for the protection of species threatened by illegal trade, facilitated the nation’s booming illicit shark fin industry by certifying illegally caught and harvested product.

Following record seizures of almost 50 tons of shark fins by Peru’s customs office between November 2018 and December 2019, the country’s authorities have launched an investigation into the administrative body that certifies wildlife exports.

The majority of shark fins trafficked from Peru end up in China, where a kilogram can sell for up to $700. Global trade in the commodity is worth close to $1 billion a year, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Peru is the world’s third largest exporter of shark fins, both legally and illegally sourced, shipping an estimated $25 million worth of the product to Hong Kong between 2014 and 2018, reported Ojo-Público.

SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profile

Major exporters of black market shark products in the country reportedly maintain links with key personnel within the Ministry of Production. The authority is entrusted with issuing permits under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a global mechanism to oversee wildlife exports.

These officials fast track CITES authorizations for select companies, helping them bypass legal obstacles and certifying illegal exports under the guise of legitimate trade.

Four CITES certificates were approved last year for a shark fin export company that has been linked to the alleged boss of a criminal organization known as “Los Piratas de Puerto Pizarro” (The Pirates of the Pizarro Port). The group operated out of the northwestern coastal city of Tumbes, and its 44 members have been accused of a number of crimes, including homicide and robbery.

InSight Crime Analysis

With the sale of shark fins still permitted in Peru, corrupt actors are able to easily camouflage fins harvested from protected species within legal shipments of the product. This allows the contraband to enter international markets under CITES certification.

An escalating demand for shark fins from Asian markets, where a pricey soup featuring the ingredient is considered a delicacy, has fueled a spike in the export of the animal product from Peru over the last several years.

While there have been superficial attempts at installing measures against the shark fin trade, political will to combat environmental crime in Peru has historically been low.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Eco Trafficking

The country’s customs authorities are ill-equipped and undertrained, leaving them unable to distinguish between the legal and illegal species of shark fin. As a result, they are incapable of properly implementing CITES requirements, allowing criminals to continue exploiting security flaws in the system.

The “lack of regulation and enforcement” in the international shark fin industry, reported the South China Morning Post, has seen “legal and illegal products blend into an impossible-to-separate quagmire.”

At the same time, corrupt PRODUCE officials are actively facilitating fin traffickers, allowing them to circumvent environmental regulations and move hundreds of tons of the product through the country’s ports every year.

The same dynamics are evident in other types of eco trafficking in Peru. The country’s logging industry mirrors the shark fin fishery as a magnet for corruption. In 2017, one in seven of the nation’s forestry officials was under investigation due to falsifying the origins of illegally extracted timber.

Around a quarter of the world’s 500 shark species are currently under threat of extinction. Of the 68 shark varieties inhabiting Peru’s heavily overfished waters, some are already endangered.

Traffickers, however, will continue to exploit lax customs controls in Peru as long as there is cash to be made in the trade of illegally harvested fins.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCA / 14 JUL 2016

Coca cultivation continues to fall in Peru in response to unprecedented eradication efforts, but this progress is undermined by the…

ECUADOR / 10 AUG 2021

The alleged exporter of a shipment of 26 tons of illegal shark fins from Ecuador to Hong Kong has received…

COLOMBIA / 6 MAR 2014

Peru plans to dedicate $300 million to anti-drug efforts in 2014, showing the country's commitment to diminishing its role in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.