Wednesday, March 19, 2008

U.S. v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds Of Shark Fins

Mar 17: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 05-56274. As explained by the Ninth Circuit, the case arises from a civil complaint brought by the U.S. Government for the forfeiture of 64,695 pounds of shark fins found on board the King Diamond II (KD II), a United States vessel. Claimant-Appellant Tai Loong Hong Marine Products, Ltd. (TLH) owned the shark fins. TLH, a Hong Kong company, had chartered the KD II and ordered it to meet foreign fishing vessels on the high seas, purchase shark fins from those vessels, transport the fins to Guatemala, and deliver them to TLH. The Government seized the fins pursuant to the Shark Finning Prohibition Act (SFPA), which makes it unlawful for any person aboard a U.S. fishing vessel to possess shark fins obtained through prohibited “shark finning.”

TLH does not contest that, on its behalf, the KD II purchased the fins at sea from foreign vessels that engaged in shark finning. Instead, it argues that the KD II is not a "fishing vessel" under 16 U.S.C. § 1802(18)(B), and for that reason the forfeiture of the shark fins it possessed would violate due process.

The Ninth Circuit said, "We agree that neither the statute nor the regulations provided fair notice to TLH that it would be considered a fishing vessel under § 1802(18)(B). We therefore reverse the judgment of forfeiture and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

Access the complete opinion (
click here).