SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - In the case of “United States of America v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins,” the shark fins have prevailed.
The lawsuit stemmed from the U.S. seizure of $618,956 worth of the fins, used in Asian soups, from the King Diamond II, an American vessel stopped about 250 miles off the coast of Guatemala in 2002.
The three-judge U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided on Monday the seizure of the 29,407 kg of fins was not legitimate because the ship was not actually a fishing vessel.
In shark finning, fishermen chop off the fins and dump the sharks back in the sea. A Hong Kong firm had bought the shark fins from other boats at sea.
According to a 2000 U.S. law, it is illegal for a “fishing vessel” to possess shark fins without the rest of the carcass. The Hong Kong firm, Tai Loong Hong, argued the boat was not a fishing vessel and was engaged only in trading.
“In the absence of any other indication in the statutes or the regulations, a vessel engaged in such trade has reason to believe that it is not subject to the possession prohibition as a fishing vessel,” the court said.
Reporting by Adam Tanner; Editing by David Storey