Fishy business: Dried seafood stores in Hong Kong fined for possession of endangered fish maws

Two dried seafood stores in Sai Ying Pun were hit with HKD110,000 worth of fines yesterday for illegally possessing endangered Totoaba macdonaldi (try saying that with a mouthful of caviar) fish maws for commercial purposes.

According to the SCMP, the Sai Ying Pun outlets of the two companies involved – Kwok Tai Marine Products Company and Yue Hing Marine Products Trading Company – were caught with the endangered species in May during an inspection by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

Since 1977, Tatoaba macdonaldi has been listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In other words, you can’t sell it without a super special licence.

Kwok Tai was found to be stocking 11 fish maws worth HKD425,000, whilst Yue Hing was found with three pieces worth HKD130,000. As neither naughty store had the super special licence, all 14 fish maws – which were no doubt destined for some rich guy’s soup – were confiscated.

Kwok Tai’s Lee Yui-chiu and Ko Chun-sing of Yue Hing pleaded guilty to three summonses issued under the ordinance. The companies were fined HKD80,000 and HKD30,000, respectively, in what was a landmark ruling.

Breaches of the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance can carry penalties of up to HKD5 million in fines and two years in prison.

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