BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - Argentine customs said Monday it had seized a valuable, five-ton shipment of endangered and protected coral and seashells from the Philippines that was destined for the black market in tourist haven Mar del Plata.
The illegal shipment of some 1,500 pieces of coral and seashells was listed as manufactured goods when it arrived at the Buenos Aires port, customs officials said.
Most of the protected species are included in the 1975 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which ensures that trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Argentine customs officials said they were considering donating the coral and shells to museums or environmental organizations for their preservation.
Mar del Plata, 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of Buenos Aires on the Atlantic coast, is one of Latin America's top tourist destinations.
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With the economic and consumer boom and the return of the middle class, there has been a surge in custom busts from drugs, to electronics, to things like rare artifacts to adorn some of the many new homes and apartments springing up in the hot housing market (not just locals but foreigners furnishing their new penthouses too). Such busts are now a weekly occurrence in our ports and in all our borders.
But coral reefs? What do you exactly DO with corals and seashells? These ecosystems take so long to grow and are fragile... If on top the climate challenges they are also being purposefully destroyed in poorer countries, to go to some completely insane and scrupulous buyers with money, that is just unbelievable.
Those reefs takes centuries to flourish. Sad.
My internet was not shut down, the internet has shut me down