HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Federal investigators have charged ten fishermen with trying to smuggle nearly a thousand shark fins out of Hawaii.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said they are all Indonesian nationals and worked on the Kyoshin Maru, a longline fishing vessel from southern Japan.
“They have no clue what they were doing here. All they could tell me was ‘ikan,’ which means fish in Indonesian," said Gary Singh, an attorney for one of the fishermen.
This comes eight years after Hawaii became the first state to ban possession of shark fins. The following year, the federal government strengthened its existing ban and the trade largely went underground near Hawaiian waters.
“This is the largest case that I’ve seen or heard of here,” said Carroll Cox, an environmental watchdog and former Fish and Wildlife Service special agent.
“It brings home the point that shark finning is alive and well.”
This federal indictment said the men tried to smuggle the fins by getting off the Kyoshin Maru in international waters 12 miles from shore.
They then took a boat to Pier 36 and were trying to catch a flight back home when Homeland Security investigators found the fins in their luggage.
The men remain in custody at the Federal Detention Center. Their next hearing is Tuesday.
Local longline fishermen say the men and the Kyoshin Maru do not operate from Hawaii’s docks.