HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 11) - A Guam seafood company was fined $20,000 for possessing thousands of illegal shark fins.

The Taiwanese fishing vessel Yu Gye Fa No. 66 was charged $10,000 for illegally offloading 3,000 pounds of fins in Guam, and the company, Polar International, was charged $20,000 for receiving those fins, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries special agent Al Samuels.

A call to Polar International was not returned yesterday.

A U.S. law prohibits fishing vessels and companies from offloading shark fins without offloading the corresponding shark carcasses as well, Samuels said. This law is intended to promote a more humane taking process, he said, and prevent fishing vessels from chopping off the fins and dumping the often still-living sharks back into the water to die.

Fishing companies do this because the fins, which are considered a delicacy in Southeast Asia, are enormously more valuable than the carcasses, Samuels said. Fins can be sold for up to $200 per pound, whereas the carcasses go for about 10 cents a pound.

He said the 3,000 pounds of fins should have been accompanied by at least 65,000 pounds of shark carcass, but the number of carcasses on the vessel did not come close to that amount.

That weight in fins probably represents thousands of sharks, Samuels said.

This is the third case of illegal fin importation into Guam in less than a year, Samuels said, making Guam one of the top importers of illegal shark fins in the country.

December 11, 2003

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