The Colombian Navy has detained five Costa Rican fishermen accused of illegally catching sharks in its territory, reported news agency EPA.
The men were apprehended in the Malpelo National Park, a UNESCO protected area of the Pacific Ocean, where the illegal slaughter of 2,000 sharks by Costa Rican crews recently drew international condemnation from Colombian government officials.
The sharks are commonly “finned”, meaning their fins are removed and the animals left to die in the ocean. The fins are highly lucrative in the Asian market, where they are bought to be used for soup. The soup can fetch almost $100 per bowl in a Hong Kong restaurant.
The Melpelo National Park covers more than 5,000 square miles of ocean and provides a habitat for threatened marine species – in particular sharks.
Admiral Rodolfo Amaya Kerquelan, commander of the Pacific Naval Force, said the captured boat, “was found with an amount of fish yet to be determined, including tuna, mahi-mahi and shark.”
The detention comes three months after an Ecuadorian ship was detained in nearby waters carrying over 660lbs of illegally caught shark and other species.