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

ARGENTINA / 3 FEB 2021

As workers across Latin America struggle to stay afloat amid economic strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, loan sharks offering…

ECUADOR / 1 JUN 2021

Timber mafias operating along Ecuador’s borders with Peru and Colombia have been profiting from thriving demand for balsa wood.

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 27 JUL 2022

When the Chinese fishing fleet was discovered near Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, its vessels were not all flagged to China. Some…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…