HomeNewsBriefThousands Of Dolphins Slaughtered Off Peru Coast
BRIEF

Thousands Of Dolphins Slaughtered Off Peru Coast

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 21 OCT 2013 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

At least 15,000 dolphins are illegally killed each year off the coast of Peru by fishermen who use them as shark bait, according to an undercover investigation, a consequence of the high profits available in the shark fin market.

According to conservation organization Mundo Azul, more than 545 boats specially designed for hunting dolphins go out at least half a dozen times a year, killing between two and six dolphins each voyage, reported La Republica. The dolphin carcasses are used to catch sharks, whose meat is sold in Peru and whose fins can be sold at extraordinarily high prices in Asia.

Mundo Azul put informants on to fishing vessels over the course of several months, with executive director Stefan Austermuhle himself accompanying fishermen and filming the harpooning of several dolphins, reported the Los Angeles Times. "This ecological crime is an open secret in Peruvian fishing," he said.

Austermuhle said that the figure of 15,000 did not include the estimated 3,000 dolphins killed each year for human consumption in Peru.

The government said it had launched an investigation into the practice, which is set to be completed by next June.

InSight Crime Analysis

The killing of dolphins is prohibited in Peru, under a 1996 law that Mundo Azul campaigned for. However, as the investigation shows, the practice is still widespread and is likely to continue while such huge profits are on offer for the sharks they are used to catch.

Shark meat is commonly eaten in Peru, but it is the fin market where the real profits lie -- Peru is among the 12 main shark fin exporters in the world. Dried shark fins sell for around $700 per kilo in Asia, while according to Peruvian newspaper El Comercio, one fin of the whale shark, the most prized delicacy, can sell for over $1,000. 

While shark fishing is permitted in most countries in the world, including Peru, shark finning, in which the fish are left to die slowly in the water after their fins have been removed, is an internationally-banned practice. However it continues to take place in Latin American waters, notably in Costa Rica, where four fishermen were jailed last year for the massacre of more than 2,000 sharks for their fins off Colombia's Pacific coast, and there is evidence of the involvement of the Taiwanese mafia in the trade.

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 / 28 NOV 2016

At first glance, estimates of Peru's coca cultivation and eradication figures simply don't add up, which has led to claims…

BOLIVIA / 17 APR 2014

The head of Colombia's Anti-Narcotics Police claims drug traffickers are importing coca base from Peru and Bolivia to be shipped…

BOLIVIA / 5 JUN 2014

Authorities in Peru are implementing new fuel restrictions in an effort to hinder illegal mining operations, but such a measure…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.