London Zoo Assists in Saving Illegal Import
Monday 6 February 2006
London Zoo has assisted in rescuing approximately 950 exotic fish and coral illegally imported from Indonesia and seized by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officials at Heathrow Airport.
Discovered under a layer of legally imported fish, the illegal imports were found individually packed in small bags for the journey. Sadly, more than 20% of the fish were dead upon arrival in Britain and a further 30% died as a result of the trauma of travelling.
Included in the haul were Banggai cardinal fish and three species of clown fish, all of which breed well in captivity which makes this illegal import completely wasteful. More importantly, the Banggai cardinal fish has a limited distribution to only one group of islands in Indonesia and is therefore very vulnerable.
Further to the fact that importing fish such as Banggai cardinal fish and clown fish is illegal without accompanying documentation, some of the imports can die while they are being transported which effectively means they are given a death sentence when they are captured.
London Zoo Team Leader Aquarium Brian Zimmerman says, “as a conservation organisation we strongly oppose the illegal importing of corals and fish. A species of fish with a limited distribution like the Banggai cardinal fish is extremely susceptible to over-exploitation. Protected species of coral are prone to over collecting which threatens the coral reef ecosystem. Therefore we strongly support HM Revenue & Customs in the work they are doing to quash illegal trade in live animals and we are pleased that we can help them by providing a place for these corals and fish to live”.
London Zoo’s aquarium team supported HM Revenue & Customs with the seizure by providing their expertise in identifying and looking after these sensitive animals as well as housing many of the marine ornamental fish and a large number of stony corals.
"HMRC will continue to seize goods imported contrary to CITES controls. Wherever possible, seized goods are donated for scientific and educational purposes. We advise the public to consult the DEFRA website on what should not be imported among animal products”, says a spokesman from HMRC.
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Joanna Phillips - 020 7449 6241 - firstname.lastname@example.org