Hong Kong authorities have seized about $540,000 worth of smuggled Australian lobster believed to be headed for mainland China. The incident follows China’s decision to limit lobster imports amid rising tensions with Australia.
Hong Kong authorities said at a press conference Friday that their customs services and Chinese law enforcement agencies confiscated about 5,300 kilograms of lobster and arrested 13 people involved in the smuggling.
The smuggling comes after a recent spike in the volume of Australian lobster imports into Hong Kong, after China imposed an unofficial ban on imports of Australian lobster late last year. Officials say monthly imports of Australian lobster to Hong Kong have more than doubled.
China’s ban on lobster imports comes after the Australian government pushed for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus. China has since blocked trade in Australian imports. Apart from lobster, wine, barley, cotton and coal are also prohibited or restricted.
“We believe that the syndicate was smuggling Australian lobster into mainland China for profit,” said Rita Li of the Hong Kong Syndicate Crime Investigation Bureau.
He said the shortage of Australian lobster in mainland China had fueled smuggling through Hong Kong. (ab/uh)