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Chilean Customs Seizures of 300 seahorses and 33 turtle shells

04 marzo 2016

In 2015, National Customs Service inspectors at the Chacalluta border complex in the Arica and Parinacota Region of Chile recorded the seizures of 300 units of Seahorses and 33 Green Turtle shells.

The species were retained by Chilean Customs in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and were sent last Wednesday to the National Service of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SERNAPESCA) for disposal. The ceremony was attended by the mayor of Arica and Parinacota, Mr. Ricardo Sanzana.

Arica’s Regional Director of Customs, Mr. Emilio Araya, explained that two seizures in 2015 prevented seahorses from being brought into the country. This species, costing over 6,000 US dollars per kilogram on the informal market, is endangered due to smugglers selling it for use as amulets or aphrodisiacs.

In the first case, a passenger was intercepted carrying 47 units of seahorses while taking a bus from Tacna to Arica. In the second case, a passenger traveling from Lima to Iquique was intercepted and the seahorses he was transporting were seized. "In total, this amounted to more than one kilo of this species, which is first captured and then dehydrated for transfer," said Mr. Araya.

Turning to the turtle shells, some 33 units of green turtle shells were retained for examination between 2013 and 2015. According to Mr. Araya, "Whenever our inspectors detect endangered species protected by CITES, these are seized and are held on our premises, prior to following the regular channels such as informing specialized bodies, like SERNAPESCA or SAG (Department of Agriculture and Livestock)".

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