On Land & Sea, Organized Crime, Illegal Fishing, Continues To Wipe Out Wildlife

slow loris in cage photo

photo: Elizabeth Bennett/Wildlife Conservation Society

The role of organize crime in the trade in endangered species, as well as how illegal fishing is driving iconic species towards extinction, is nothing new on the pages of TreeHugger, but there are several new graphic examples of this coming across our virtual desk today.

The Wildlife Conservation Society is highlighting how "wealthy East Asian markets" are increasingly the outlet for organized crime syndicates; and, WWF points out that an international illegal bluefin trading ring worth €4 million ($5.75 million) has been busted in Sardinia.70 People Under Investigation For Falsifying Fishing Records
Reports in Italian media (La Nuova Sardegna, AGI) say that port authorities in Maddalena are investigation 70 people in an illegal bluefin trafficking ring and have found 1000 administrative violations so far.

WWF's translation,

The fraud, which could involve organised crime groups, was carried out via the avoidance or falsification of the Bluefin Catch Documents (BCD) that are obligatory according to EU law concerning the fishing and trading of bluefin tuna - an endangered species. The EU sets quota limits for each Member State to catch bluefin tuna, which is highly sought-after in Japan where the market price can reach €500 per kilo.

Increasingly Sophisticated Smuggling Techniques Used By Organized Crime Groups
WCS's Elizabeth Bennett has a new paper in the journal Oryx that shows how enforcement methods used to stop the trade in endangered species aren't keeping pace with the methods used by mafia.

Bennett says, "We are rapidly losing big, spectacular animals to an entirely new type of trade driven by criminalized syndicates."

Making enforcement more difficult are increasingly sophisticated methods used in smuggling: "Hidden compartments in shipping containers; rapidly changing of smuggling routes; and the use of e-commerce whose locations are difficult to detect."

Bennett soberly concludes:

Unless we start taking wildlife crime seriously and allocating the commitment of resources appropriate to tackling sophisticated, well-funded, globally-linked criminal operations, population of some the most beloved but economically prized, charismatic species will continue to wink out across their range, and, appalllingly, altogether.

More on the Illegal Wildlife Trade
Illegal Ivory Trade on the Rise as Organized Crime Syndicates in Africa, Asia Grow in Strength
Rhino Poaching Increases 2000% in 3 Years
Sea Shepherd to Defend Bluefin Tuna in Libyan Waters

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