December raids in China net 58 seafood smugglers
Chinese courts will prosecute 58 people caught in a December bust of a smuggling ring illegally trading in frozen seafood.
The clampdown is part of a multiagency effort that may have the effect of diverting more seafood away from formal trade channels, driving up prices as a result.
Police and customs officials, working with China Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ) officers, conducted sting operations at ports and warehouses across China in December. Collectively, the operations confiscated an estimated 37,000 tons of seafood a worth CNY 1.9 billion (USD 292.2 million, EUR 243.2 million), according to a report on the main evening news show of the China Central TV (CCTV) channel.
Up to 50 percent of seafood imports are coming into China through “irregular channels,” according to CCTV’s XinWen Lianbao program, which showed slogans being posted by Chinese authorities at customs stations on the China-Vietnam border promising strict enforcement of border checks in 2018.
Aside from collecting more taxes, China appears keen to slow the influx of catfish from Vietnam, which has undercut domestic aquaculture production. However, many Chinese ports have a long tradition of smuggling, often abetted by local officials for fees.