Last night, customs officials arrested two women and seized 63 kilos of European eels as well as 46 kilos of dried shark fin.
The European eels were found inside the check-in luggage of the two arrested passengers, who were arriving from Spain via Turkey. The 63 kilos were spread among four different pieces of luggage.
The passengers apparently made no attempt to conceal the eels inside the luggage. Photo: Hong Kong Customs.
Later, officials found the 46 kilos of dried shark fin, believed to be from smooth hammerheads sharks, inside an unclaimed bag.
The cases were handed over to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), European eels are critically endangered while smooth hammerheads are considered “vulnerable”. The Hong Kong government considers both to be endangered.
This little eel sure looks happy to be rescued from being eaten by Hong Kong foodies. (Photo: Hong Kong Customs)
It’s the fourth time this year that customs officials have seized European eels from air passengers. The eels are considered a delicacy in Japan and Europe.
Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, importing an endangered species without a licence can be punishable by a fine of HKD5 million and two years’ imprisonment.