In view of the potential abuse of transit through Lithuania of products from outside the European Union, the State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS) and Lithuanian Customs have strengthened controls and are taking measures to prevent illegal shipments. As part of the cross-cutting actions, officials have expeditiously intercepted the illegal consignment of 6 tons of rare eel.
Via the port of Klaipėda the consignment was due to arrive in Kazakhstan from China, but it was subjected to a detailed inspection by officials who suspected that the declared species of eel might be different from the one being shipped.
The National Institute for Food and Veterinary Risk Assessment confirmed the suspicions following the collection and testing of the official control samples.
It was found that the transported eels were neither American nor freshwater eels (Anguilla rostrata) as stated in the documents. The consignment turned out to contain European eel (Anguilla anguilla) protected by the CITIES Convention on International Trade and included in the list of endangered fish species. The transport of these eels requires specific certificates and authorisations issued by the responsible authorities.
The value of the seized consignment of frozen fried eels is almost €70 000. The Klaipėda District Prosecutor’s Office leads a pre-trial investigation on smuggling at the Klaipėda Division of the Customs Criminal Service (CCS).
“This is the fifth case in the last two years where the joint work of the SFVS and Customs officers has helped identify such counterfeiting and smuggling of an endangered eel species from outside the EU. Illegal attempts to transit consignments of protected eel species through Lithuania were also made in 2020. Since the infringement in this case also involves a third country, we have forwarded the investigation material to the European Commission, which will in turn initiate further investigations,” commented Mantas Staškevičius, Director of SFVS.