SAN DIEGO (AP) - Seven people have been charged with smuggling bladders from an endangered fish in what authorities said Wednesday may be a growing international practice in which the bladders are sold for up to $20,000 each to be used in a highly desired soup.
U.S. border inspectors in Calexico have seized 529 bladders since February that they believe were destined for China and Hong Kong. The probe began when an inspector spotted about 30 bladders buried in an ice chest.
The bladders came from totoaba fish that live exclusively in Mexico's Sea of Cortez. Also known as Mexican giant bass or giant croaker, the fish can measure up to 7 feet long and weigh more than 200 pounds. The cream-colored, leathery bladders alone measure up to 3 feet.
The fish are captured with gillnets when they migrate in the spring to the shallow waters in the northern Sea of Cortez, authorities said. The gas-filled bladders, which keep the fish buoyant, are removed and taken to stash houses along the border, with the fish carcasses left to rot on gulf shores near the tourist town of San Felipe.
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National Fisherman Live: 12/16/14
In this episode, Bruce Buls, WorkBoat's technical editor, interviews Long Island lobsterman John Aldridge, who survived for 12 hours after falling overboard in the dead of night. Aldridge was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Pacific Marine Expo, which took place Nov. 19-21 in Seattle.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.