Restaurants, markets caught selling illegal shark fins in Texas, officials say

HOUSTON (KGO) -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says ten restaurants and markets in the Houston and Dallas area were caught illegally selling shark fins and shark fin products during a recent bust.

Wildlife officials shared pictures of the cut off shark fins on a metal table.

Officials say they seized several hundred pounds of shark parts after finding about 30,000 pounds of shark carcasses during a black market bust at several restaurants and wholesale fish dealers.

Although, shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in traditional Chinese cuisine, selling sharks fins is banned in Texas, California and other states.

"Protecting the many shark species residing and migrating through the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the illegally trafficked sharks from around the world, offered for sale in Texas is one of our highest priorities," Col. Grahame Jones, Law Enforcement Director at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said in a statement.

According to Oceana, as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global shark fin trade every year.

"One of the greatest threats to sharks is finning - the act of cutting the fins off of a shark and discarding its body at sea, where it could drown, bleed to death, or be eaten alive by other fish," said Oceana.

Texas began its "extensive" investigation in December.

"Texas Game Wardens will continue to proactively work investigations related to illegal shark fin products and violations against the many species of wildlife found throughout the state," said Jones.

The businesses implicated in the bust face Class B misdemeanor charges, including possession of a shark without the fins and the unlawful commercial sale or purchase of aquatic products, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

"The list of restaurants is not available for release until after the charges have been filed by the respective District Attorneys' offices," tweeted the department.

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