Failure to get a permit to import a threatened species

Date: 1/6/2007

A New Zealand company was fined $10,000 for illegally importing seahorses used to treat everything from asthma to impotence. An estimated 62,000 seahorses were killed to produce a powder that made half the contents of a 25kg drum imported into New Zealand by the firm. Border authorities seized the product when it was found to have no permit. Under New Zealand law, seahorses are considered a species threatened by trade and a special permit must be obtained for importing them. The fine was only one tenth of what could have been imposed but the judge found the uncertified importation to be an oversight by the company rather than anything sinister. It is possible that the seahorses used to create the powder might have come from a seahorse farm in China where seahorse farming takes place on a large scale with one company farming up to 50 tonnes a year.

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