Shark fins worth up to $1.5m discovered after raids on nine properties in the port city of Manta
Hundreds of shark fins seized by the police in Manta, Ecuador. Photograph: Ecuador's Attorney General/AP
Police in the Ecuadorian port city of Manta say they have seized about 200,000 shark fins destined to be illegally exported to Asia where they would fetch up to $1.5m.
Colonel Rommel Tapia, the head of the judicial police in Manta, said on Thursday nine properties were raided in the city and six people were arrested, including one of Chinese nationality. Those arrested face charges of damaging wildlife.
The interior minister, José Serrano, told the Democracia radio station that authorities in Ecuador had “dealt a major blow to an international network that trafficked shark fins”.
A spokesman for the Galapagos Conservation Trust said: “The seizure of so many shark fins on mainland Ecuador, just 1,000km away from the Galapagos Islands, is deeply distressing. Sharks play an essential role in the marine ecosystem and removing them can cause the entire marine ecosystem to collapse.
“It’s great news that the Ecuadorian authorities are tackling illegal shark fishing in their waters and the sale of illegal shark products, but it will take a truly international effort to put a stop to this global problem.”
The fins are often used to make shark fin soup, a traditional Chinese dish.
Manta is 260 kilometres south-west of the capital, Quito.