Maputo — The Mozambican authorities have arrested a Chinese citizen in Vilankulo district, in the southern province of Inhambane, who was found in possession of 8.4 kilos of seahorses.
Seahorses are a favourite animal for aquarium enthusiasts - but since these ones were dead and has been dried, they were certainly not going to end up in any aquarium.
These fish are also used in fraudulent Chinese medicine. It is said that seahorses can cure a variety of ailments, including impotence, and they are also used to induce labour in pregnant women. There is no evidence that consuming seahorses will cure any medical condition at all.
But the demand from the Asian market, including not only China, but also Indonesia, the Philippines and Korea, may be driving the 46 species of seahorse towards extinction. It is feared that around 20 million of these small fish are caught every year.
Seahorses are protected in Mozambique, and currently investigations are under way to discover where the Chinese citizen obtained the seahorses found in his possession. The Mozambican authorities suspect that they are the result of illegal fishing in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, off the coast of the Inhambane districts of Vilankulo and Inhassoro.
According to the provincial spokesperson for the National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC), "measures are being taken to hold the citizen of Asian origin criminally responsible". He may also be in the country illegally, since no passport was found in his possession.
The seizure of the dried seahorses was possible because the police received a tip-off from people living near the Vilankulo house used by the Chinese citizen.