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Unable to prosecute shark fin exporters due to delays by Customs: PGO

Lamya Abdulla
30 June 2021, MVT 14:26
Shark fins being dried in Alifu Dhaalu Dhigurah: fishing and export of shark products was banned in Maldives in 2010.
Lamya Abdulla
30 June 2021, MVT 14:26

Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) unable to prosecute those involved in exporting shark fins due to delays by Maldives Customs Service.

In January of this year, a salted fish shipment was found to have 429 kilograms of shark fin hidden. This export was stopped by Velana International Airport (VIA).

Customs are still reluctant to divulge any information regarding this case to the media despite the fact six months have passed since the attempted export was stopped.

Even though this case has been sent to the PGO by Customs, it has not been yet accepted and is in the duty prosecution stage, according to PGO. They have requested Customs to amend the case on several occasions.

PGO has said they received the case from Customs on March 18, two months after the case was initially reported. After PGO requested for changes to be made, Customs resent the case back after nearly two months had passed, on May 15. After the case was sent back to Customs again, they sent it back to PGO on June 27, after another two months had passed.

Another case involving the export of four kilograms of shark fins were also investigated by Customs. PGO asked Customs to amend this case on March 18 as well. This case has not been sent back to the PGO since.

Customs media official Fathimath Shifaazaa told Mihaaru they have not been able to investigate this case due to pandemic related difficulties. She noted that the required quarantine period proved to be an obstacle in bringing in people to take their statements. They also faced complications in obtaining official documents from the state institutions as well, Shifaazaa said.

The shark fins were being exported in hidden in boxes with Enzi's packaging. While Customs have said they were not done by Enzi, they have opted to not reveal who it is yet.

Fishing and export of shark fins were prohibited in Maldives in 2010.

However, some islands inAlifu Alifu Atoll and Alifu Dhaalu Atoll still practice shark fishing on a large scale.

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