Dolphins illegally killed for fancy food in Italy

The carcasses of two bottlenose dolphins have been recently found mutilated in Sardinia, Italy, to make “mosciame”, fillets of dried meat sold on the black market.

Illegal trade and wildlife crime

This episode is only the latest of many similar recorded in recent years and reveals the current extent of this serious crime. The motivation behind this infraction is the high price, up to 200 euros per kilo, that “mosciame” can reach in the black market.

The sale of this dolphin dried meat is illegal since 1989. However, as the demand for this fancy food continues, the illegal trade continues to be a thriving and widespread clandestine market in some areas of the Mediterranean.

Cetaceans are protected species

The bottlenose dolphin is one of the eight species of cetaceans present in the Mediterranean. Despite of being often spotted due to their coastal habits, its conservation status is considered Vulnerable by the IUCN, affected by illegal trade and other impacts on marine biodiversity.

Tursiops truncatus, bottlenose dolphins/WWF IT

Poaching and illegal fishing in Italy

Not only terrestrial fauna is affected by poaching crimes: marine species such as eels, holothurians, date mussels, and some species of sharks are also particularly affected, according to the SWiPE Italian national report, recently published.

The number of inspections in recent, from 110 to 140 thousand with sanctions from 7 to over 12 million €, have not been enough to prevent this episode.

As mentioned in the Italian report, more has still to be done. Among WWF Italy’s reccommendations is the creation of regional databases, improving inter-agency cooperation, increasing controls and strengthening sanctions.

WWF IT legal office has been already activated for this case.

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