How the U.S. is inadvertently facilitating shark fin smuggling
American ports are stopovers on global trade routes for shipments of both legal and illegal shark fins.
A cargo plane bound for Asia stopped at Miami International Airport for a few hours to refuel on January 24. In its belly was a consignment of 18 large cardboard boxes that, unbeknownst to the wildlife inspectors on duty, contained something highly protected and—in some cases—illegal: shark fins.
“The inspectors were just like, ‘Well, let’s see if there’s anything else in it that is not supposed to be there,’” says Eva Lara, a supervisory inspector with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which regulates wildlife imports and exports.
The first few boxes Fish and Wildlife Service and Customs and Border Protection inspectors opened held legal wildlife products. But as they dug deeper into the contents, they uncovered shark fins. “Then it became