An estimated 18,000 dolphins are killed annually in Peru

At least 15,000 dolphins are illegally killed each year off the coast of Peru by fishermen who use them as shark bait, according to an undercover investigation, a consequence of the high profits available in the shark fin market.

According to conservation organization Mundo Azul, more than 545 boats specially designed for hunting dolphins go out at least half a dozen times a year, killing between two and six dolphins each voyage, reported La Republica. The dolphin carcasses are used to catch sharks, whose meat is sold in Peru and whose fins can be sold at extraordinarily high prices in Asia.

Mundo Azul put informants on to fishing vessels over the course of several months, with executive director Stefan Austermuhle himself accompanying fishermen and filming the harpooning of several dolphins, reported the Los Angeles Times. "This ecological crime is an open secret in Peruvian fishing," he said.

Austermuhle said that the figure of 15,000 did not include the estimated 3,000 dolphins killed each year for human consumption in Peru.

The government said it had launched an investigation into the practice, which is set to be completed by next June.

InSight Crime Analysis

The killing of dolphins is prohibited in Peru, under a 1996 law that Mundo Azul campaigned for. However, as the investigation shows, the practice is still widespread and is likely to continue while such huge profits are on offer for the sharks they are used to catch.

Shark meat is commonly eaten in Peru, but it is the fin market where the real profits lie -- Peru is among the 12 main shark fin exporters in the world. Dried shark fins sell for around $700 per kilo in Asia, while according to Peruvian newspaper El Comercio, one fin of the whale shark, the most prized delicacy, can sell for over $1,000. 

While shark fishing is permitted in most countries in the world, including Peru, shark finning, in which the fish are left to die slowly in the water after their fins have been removed, is an internationally-banned practice. However it continues to take place in Latin American waters, notably in Costa Rica, where four fishermen were jailed last year for the massacre of more than 2,000 sharks for their fins off Colombia's Pacific coast, and there is evidence of the involvement of the Taiwanese mafia in the trade.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...