Sharp eyes foil sharp practices
13 December 2004
The sharp eyes of Quarantine officers uncovered a haul of around 7 kilograms of shark fin last Saturday, on board a foreign fishing vessel escorted into Darwin by the Royal Australian Navy. The shark fin had been hidden in a hollowed-out hatch cover.
“We’d gone through the vessel with a fine-toothed comb,” Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) Darwin Cargo Manager Kevin Langham says.
“Then I spotted two suspiciously shiny nail heads in the bottom section of a hatch cover. This indicated to me that the nails had only recently been driven in, so we opened the cover with a hatchet.”
The shark fin, worth around $A700 in Asia, was concealed inside. The cover had been cleverly designed and sealed to prevent the escape of tell-tale odour.
The boat was allegedly fishing illegally inside Australian waters. Fishing for shark-fin is a cruel practice: fins are usually hacked off from the live animal, which is then returned to the water to die. This kind of fishing is illegal under Australian law.
Darwin Quarantine officers inspect all foreign fishing vessels brought into the harbour. They look for exotic pests such as termites and borers that could be hiding in the vessels’ timbers, mosquitoes that breed in water containers, and insects in food supplies.
Fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, eggs and live animals that may be on board can harbour diseases that could harm Australia’s animals, crops and human health.
17 Jul 2006