Colombian police say they have confiscated thousands of shark fins suspected of being trafficked to Hong Kong. Shark fin is a prized food in Chinese cuisine.
Police said a shipment of 3,493 shark fins was seized at an airport in the capital Bogota. They began investigating on Monday on suspicion of poaching.
The seized fins are estimated to have been harvested from 900 to 1,000 sharks each measuring 1 to 5 meters long. A total of 117 kilograms of fish air bladders, also prized in Chinese cuisine, were confiscated at the same time.
The company handling the shipment reportedly notified authorities about the case.
Trade and processing of sharks are banned in Colombia.
The authorities said it is highly likely that the seized materials were obtained by poaching. They expressed concern that such a practice could inflict irreversible damage to the local marine eco system.
Vessels, apparently from China, have been conducting large-scale fishing off South America for the past few years. Local environmentalists now face the challenge of how to protect sharks and other marine species.