The online news portal of TV5
MANILA - Customs authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) intercepted 256 kilos of banned eel fry with an estimated worth of $1.26 million at 7:30 a.m. Sunday as they were about to be loaded on China Airlines flight CI 712.
The cargo, consisting of 13 boxes of banned elvers or eel fry destined for Kaohsiung, Taiwan, was intercepted at the export division of the Pair Cargo warehouse by alert Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Food and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) personnel.
Pair Cargo Customs Collector Rey Gatchalian disclosed that the shipment was initially declared as "live tropical fish" but when Customs examiners checked the boxes, they were surprised to discover it contained plastic bags filled with baby eels.
BFAR personnel disclosed that the street value of the elvers in the Philippines is roughly around P22,000 per kilogram. However, once it reaches the international market, elvers cost over $2,000 per pound or $4,400 per kilogram.
The worldwide demand for elvers has grown considerably as the fingerlings are shipped to China, where they are raised, and then shipped to the West, where they are sold in seafood markets.
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon who, together with BFAR Director Asis Perez, witnessed the turnover of the illegal contraband this morning at the Pair Cargo warehouse said that the importation of elvers violates Republic Act 8550 under the Fisheries Administrative Order 242 Series of 2012 which reinstated the ban on the export of Eevers.
Biazon added that the offense carries a penalty of imprisonment of up to eight years or a fine equivalent to double the export value of the shipment.
The seized fingerlings will be brought to the BFAR hatchery in Tanay, Rizal, for custodial care.