More charged in connection with shark fin smuggling operation

More charged in connection with shark fin smuggling operation
The men, with their suitcases boarded the bus to the federal jail Thursday afternoon (Source: Kawano, Lynn)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The owner and officers of a Japanese-flagged fishing vessel have been charged for allegedly harvesting 1,000 shark fins.

Federal investigators say they caught the smugglers when 10 of their Indonesian workers tried to sneak fins through the Honolulu airport last month.

Those fisherman have already been charged.

Investigators said the crew of the M.V. Kyoshin Maru harvested fins from about 300 sharks in the South Pacific. Some were still alive when they were thrown back into the ocean.

On Wednesday, the captain, fishing master and first engineer of the vessel were charged with aiding and abetting the unlawful smuggling and trafficking of shark fins.

“The alleged conduct in this case is troubling and has international implications,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji Price. "Shark finning indisputably damages our ocean ecosystems by extinguishing apex predators. Without apex predators such as oceanic whitetip sharks, entire ocean ecosystems are thrown out of balance."

The companies could face more than $5 million in fines.

The officers, meanwhile, face $3 million in fines and prison time.

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.

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