Mexican startup accused of illegally selling health drink made from endangered fish
December 9, 2023 | by b1og.net
Imagine stumbling upon a Mexican startup that claims to have a groundbreaking health drink made from an endangered fish. Sounds intriguing, right? Well, hold on to your curiosity because this seemingly innovative company, called The Blue Formula, has recently been accused of illegally selling a health supplement derived from the endangered totoaba fish. Environmental watchdogs are now raising concerns about the company’s practices and potential violation of international trade laws. Not only that, but there are suspicions that the fish used in the drink might be illegally caught in the wild. With a fascinating blend of environmental concerns and potential legal violations, this story raises important questions about the responsible sourcing and trade of endangered species.
Environmental watchdogs accuse Mexican startup of violating international trade law
Environmental watchdogs have recently accused a Mexico-based startup, The Blue Formula, of violating international trade law by selling a health supplement made from endangered totoaba fish. This accusation has raised concerns about illegal fishing practices and potential trade violations. Advocates argue that the sale of totoaba fish products by The Blue Formula is illegal and detrimental to the conservation efforts of this endangered species.
The Blue Formula accused of selling totoaba fish health supplement
The product in question is a health supplement marketed by The Blue Formula, which claims to be sourced from totoaba fish. The supplement is a powder containing collagen from the fish, which is sold in small sachets to be mixed into drinks. However, the sale of totoaba fish, whether in whole or in parts, is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), unless the fish is bred in captivity with a specific permit.
Concerns about illegal fishing and trade violations
Aside from the potential violation of international trade law, there are also concerns that The Blue Formula may be selling fish that is illegally caught in the wild. This raises significant environmental and ethical issues, as illegal fishing practices often contribute to overfishing and endangerment of various marine species. The allegations against The Blue Formula shed light on the need for stricter regulations and enforcement to prevent illegal trade and protect endangered species.
The product description and its legal implications
The Blue Formula describes its product as “nature’s best-kept secret” and promotes it as a health supplement. However, the legal implications surrounding this product are significant. Due to the endangered status of totoaba fish, any export for sale of these fish must be in compliance with international trade laws. It is crucial to ensure that products marketed as health supplements do not contribute to the illegal trade of endangered species or promote unsustainable fishing practices.
Violation of international trade law
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the sale of totoaba fish, unless bred in captivity with a specific permit, is illegal. Both Mexico and the United States are signatories to this convention. It is essential for companies like The Blue Formula to comply with international trade laws to protect endangered species and maintain the integrity of the global trade system.
Environmental groups file a written complaint
In response to the allegations against The Blue Formula, a coalition of environmental charities, including The Center for Biological Diversity, National Resources Defense Council, and Animal Welfare Institute, filed a written complaint to CITES. This complaint emphasizes the concerns about the potential illegal trade of totoaba fish and the need for strict enforcement of international trade laws.
The Blue Formula’s response
At the time of writing, The Blue Formula has not responded to the allegations made by environmental watchdogs and the written complaint filed against them. It remains to be seen how the company will address these accusations and whether they will take steps to ensure compliance with international trade laws and sustainable fishing practices.
The company’s sustainability claims
The Blue Formula claims to operate “100% sustainably” by sourcing fish from Cygnus Ocean, a farm with a permit to breed totoaba. The company also states that a portion of its profits is used to release some of the farmed fish back into the wild. However, concerns have been raised regarding the legitimacy of these sustainability claims. Environmental groups argue that Cygnus Ocean does not have a permit for the commercial export of their farmed fish, which raises questions about the transparency and legality of The Blue Formula’s operations.
Cygnus Ocean’s lack of commercial export permit
According to environmental groups, Cygnus Ocean, the farm from which The Blue Formula claims to source their fish, does not have a permit for the commercial export of their farmed fish. This further raises doubts about the legality of The Blue Formula’s operations and the sustainability claims made by the company. It is crucial for companies involved in the trade of endangered species to obtain the necessary permits and adhere to regulations to prevent the exploitation and endangerment of these species.
Possibility of illegal totoaba trade and laundering
One of the major concerns highlighted by environmental advocates is the possibility of illegal totoaba trade and laundering. The lack of enforcement and traceability of totoaba in Mexico makes it challenging to monitor and regulate the trade effectively. This creates opportunities for illegal activities, such as the sale of wild-caught totoaba disguised as farmed fish. The allegations against The Blue Formula serve as a reminder of the need for robust traceability measures and enforcement to prevent the illegal trade and laundering of endangered species.
Totoaba fishing and its environmental impact
Gillnet fishing for wild totoaba has significant environmental impacts, particularly on the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. Gillnetting is one of the leading causes of vaquita porpoise mortality, with recent surveys suggesting that less than a dozen of these porpoises remain in the wild. The soaring price of totoaba bladders in China, where they are considered a delicacy, drives the demand for totoaba fishing. This demand contributes to the depletion of totoaba populations and puts other marine species, such as the vaquita porpoise, at risk.
Seizures of illegal totoaba bladders and trade
The illegal trade of totoaba bladders has been a persistent issue. In October, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over $1 million worth of totoaba bladders in Arizona, concealed within a shipment of frozen fish. A similar seizure occurred in Hong Kong, where authorities confiscated a substantial amount of totoaba bladders in transit from Mexico to Thailand. These seizures underscore the ongoing challenges of regulating and combating the illegal totoaba trade.
The ecological impact of breeding totoaba in captivity
While breeding totoaba in captivity has a smaller ecological impact compared to wild fishing, there are still concerns about potential consequences. The release of farmed totoaba back into the wild, as claimed by The Blue Formula, raises questions about the potential for genetic contamination and the impact on the overall population dynamics of the species. It is crucial for totoaba fish farming operations to adhere to strict protocols and conduct thorough scientific assessments to minimize any negative ecological effects.
Critically endangered vaquita porpoise population
The critically endangered vaquita porpoise is one of the species most affected by totoaba fishing. With less than a dozen individuals estimated to be remaining in the wild, the vaquita porpoise is on the brink of extinction. The illegal gillnet fishing practices targeting totoaba pose a significant threat to the survival of this critically endangered species. Conservation efforts urgently need to focus on protecting the remaining vaquita porpoises and their habitat to prevent their extinction.
Recent cases of illegal totoaba trade
The seizures of totoaba bladders in Arizona and Hong Kong highlight the ongoing issue of illegal totoaba trade. Despite the efforts of law enforcement agencies, there continues to be a demand for totoaba bladders, primarily fueled by the Chinese market. The profitability of the totoaba trade incentivizes illegal fishing and smuggling, contributing to the endangerment of this species. These recent cases serve as reminders of the persistent challenges in combating the illegal totoaba trade.
Regulations and laws protecting totoaba fish
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) provides essential protections for totoaba fish. The export and import of totoaba fish or its parts without the necessary permits are illegal under this international agreement. In the United States, there are also trade laws in place that prohibit the commercial import of totoaba fish. Strict adherence to these regulations is crucial for preserving the population of totoaba fish and preventing the illegal trade of this endangered species.
Importance of permits and breeding in captivity
To ensure the protection and conservation of totoaba fish, permits play a critical role. Proper permits are required for the breeding and trade of totoaba fish, particularly when it comes to commercial activities. Breeding totoaba in captivity can provide a more sustainable alternative to wild fishing, but it must be done responsibly and in compliance with regulations. Permits and traceability measures are vital tools to monitor and control the trade of totoaba, preventing the depletion of wild populations and the disruption of ecosystems.
Significance of traceability and enforcement
Traceability and enforcement are crucial components in combating illegal fishing and trade. A lack of effective traceability measures makes it challenging to determine the source and legality of totoaba products. This creates loopholes that can be exploited for the illegal trade of totoaba fish. To ensure the protection of endangered species like totoaba, it is essential to establish robust traceability systems and enhance enforcement efforts to eliminate opportunities for illegal activities.
Environmental groups’ actions and concerns
Environmental groups have taken action to address the allegations against The Blue Formula and raise their concerns about the illegal totoaba trade. Cetacean Action Treasury initially cited The Blue Formula in November for their possible involvement in violating international trade law. Following this, a coalition of environmental charities, including The Center for Biological Diversity, National Resources Defense Council, and Animal Welfare Institute, filed a written complaint to CITES. These actions highlight the collective effort to protect endangered species and hold accountable those involved in illegal trade practices.
Cetacean Action Treasury’s citation of The Blue Formula
Cetacean Action Treasury, an environmental watchdog group, first cited The Blue Formula for their potential violation of international trade law. This citation drew attention to the concerns surrounding the company’s operations and the potential illegal trade of totoaba fish. By raising awareness of these issues, Cetacean Action Treasury played a crucial role in initiating the investigation into The Blue Formula’s activities.
A coalition of environmental charities’ complaint to CITES
To further address the alleged illegal trade of totoaba fish, a coalition of environmental charities filed a formal written complaint to CITES. This complaint brings together the efforts of organizations like The Center for Biological Diversity, National Resources Defense Council, and Animal Welfare Institute to notify the governing body responsible for regulating international trade in endangered species. By filing this complaint, the coalition aims to ensure that the allegations against The Blue Formula are thoroughly investigated and appropriate actions are taken to enforce international trade laws.
Center for Biological Diversity’s concerns about traceability
The Center for Biological Diversity has expressed concerns regarding the traceability of totoaba products. Insufficient traceability measures make it challenging to determine whether the fish used in The Blue Formula’s health supplement was sourced legally and sustainably. The lack of robust traceability not only impedes efforts to combat the illegal totoaba trade but also raises doubts about the legitimacy of The Blue Formula’s claims. The Center for Biological Diversity advocates for stronger traceability protocols to prevent the exploitation of endangered species and promote transparency in the global trade of wildlife products.
Potential use of The Blue Formula as a front
There is concern among environmental advocates that The Blue Formula and its association with Cygnus Ocean could be a front for illegal totoaba trade. The lack of transparency surrounding the commercial export of farmed totoaba fish raises suspicions about the legitimacy of The Blue Formula’s operations. Without proper permits and traceability, there is a risk that the company could be facilitating the illegal trade and laundering of wild-caught totoaba. This highlights the need for thorough investigation and enforcement to prevent the exploitation of endangered species under the guise of legal operations.
Impact on totoaba fish farming industry
The accusations against The Blue Formula and the concerns raised about their association with Cygnus Ocean can have significant implications for the totoaba fish farming industry. The lack of a commercial export permit for Cygnus Ocean’s farmed fish calls into question the legitimacy of the industry as a whole. Negative publicity surrounding The Blue Formula’s alleged illegal trade can tarnish the reputation of the totoaba fish farming industry and make it more challenging for legitimate operations to gain trust and support.
Lack of commercial export permit for Cygnus Ocean’s farmed fish
Environmental groups have highlighted the lack of a commercial export permit for Cygnus Ocean’s farmed fish. This raises questions about the legality of the export activities carried out by the company and its association with The Blue Formula. The absence of a permit undermines the credibility and compliance of Cygnus Ocean’s operations, contributing to concerns about the potential illegal totoaba trade under the guise of farmed fish exports.
Importance of Cygnus Ocean’s response
In light of the allegations against The Blue Formula and their association with Cygnus Ocean, it is essential for Cygnus Ocean to respond to the concerns raised by environmental groups. Clarifying their permit status for commercial export and addressing the associations with The Blue Formula can help mitigate doubts about the legitimacy of their operations. Open communication and transparency from Cygnus Ocean are crucial to ensure public confidence and accountability in the totoaba fish farming industry.
The reputation of the totoaba fish farming industry
The allegations against The Blue Formula and concerns about the association with Cygnus Ocean can have a detrimental impact on the reputation of the totoaba fish farming industry. In an industry where sustainability and compliance with regulations are paramount, negative publicity can undermine the credibility and trust of legitimate operations. It is critical for the totoaba fish farming industry as a whole to distance itself from practices that contribute to illegal trade and exploitation of endangered species.
The price and quantity of the health supplement
The Blue Formula’s health supplement is marketed at approximately $100 for 200 grams. The price reflects the perceived value and demand for totoaba fish products. The quantity offered allows for multiple servings of the health drink, targeting consumers who value the purported health benefits associated with the totoaba fish collagen. The cost and market for The Blue Formula’s health drink highlight the profitability and demand for totoaba fish products.
Demand for totoaba fish products in the market
Despite the legal restrictions on the trade of totoaba fish, there continues to be a demand for its products in the market. The Chinese market, in particular, has exhibited a substantial appetite for totoaba bladders, which are considered a delicacy. The high prices offered for totoaba products incentivize illegal fishing practices and smuggling, leading to the endangerment of this species. It is essential to address the demand for totoaba fish products and promote sustainable alternatives to protect the species and preserve marine ecosystems.
Comparison to seizures of totoaba bladders
The seizures of totoaba bladders in Arizona and Hong Kong serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges in regulating the totoaba trade. The value of these seized bladders, amounting to over $1 million in Arizona alone, highlights the profitability and demand for totoaba products. When compared to the cost of The Blue Formula’s health supplement, it becomes evident that the illegal trade of totoaba remains lucrative. Enforcement agencies and environmental organizations need to work together to combat the illegal totoaba trade effectively.
Enforcement of traceability of totoaba in Mexico
One of the challenges in regulating the totoaba trade lies in the enforcement of traceability measures in Mexico. Insufficient monitoring and supervision make it difficult to verify the origin and legality of totoaba fish products. This creates opportunities for illegal fishing and trade, contributing to the endangerment of this species and the potential exploitation of farmed fish for illegal activities. To prevent these issues, it is crucial for Mexican authorities to strengthen traceability protocols and enhance enforcement efforts.
Illegal gillnet fishing and its impact on vaquita porpoise
Illegal gillnet fishing poses a significant threat to the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. These fishing practices, primarily driven by the demand for totoaba bladders, result in the accidental entanglement and mortality of vaquita porpoises. With fewer than a dozen individuals remaining in the wild, the vaquita porpoise population is on the verge of extinction. Stringent enforcement against illegal gillnet fishing and efforts to promote sustainable fishing practices are necessary to protect the vaquita porpoise and preserve marine ecosystems.
Challenges in regulating totoaba trade
Regulating the totoaba trade presents several challenges due to its illegal nature and the demand for its products. Weak traceability systems, lack of enforcement, and the profitability of the trade contribute to the persistence of illegal fishing and smuggling activities. Collaborative efforts between government entities, environmental organizations, and enforcement agencies are necessary to address these challenges effectively. Strengthening regulations, enhancing monitoring capabilities, and promoting sustainable alternatives are crucial steps in combating the illegal totoaba trade.
Conservation measures for totoaba fish and vaquita porpoise
Conservation efforts are vital to protect both totoaba fish and the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. Measures should include strict enforcement of international trade laws, such as those outlined in CITES, to prevent illegal trade and ensure the sustainability of totoaba populations. Additionally, habitat protection, the promotion of sustainable fishing practices, and initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of marine conservation can contribute to the preservation of these species and their ecosystems.
Sustainable farming and trade practices
To mitigate the impact of illegal totoaba trade and overfishing, sustainable farming and trade practices are essential. Responsible aquaculture can provide a more sustainable alternative to wild fishing, helping to meet the demand for totoaba fish products without further endangering wild populations. Proper permits, traceability systems, and adherence to regulations are essential for ensuring the sustainability of totoaba fish farming and trade operations. By embracing sustainable practices, the industry can contribute to the conservation of totoaba fish and the protection of marine ecosystems.
The need for international cooperation
Addressing the challenges posed by the illegal totoaba trade requires international cooperation. The cross-border nature of the trade demands collaboration between countries, including Mexico, the United States, and China, to enforce trade regulations and combat smuggling activities. Sharing information, coordinating enforcement efforts, and establishing joint initiatives can help disrupt the illegal totoaba trade and protect the endangered totoaba fish. International cooperation is crucial for effective conservation measures and sustainable management of marine resources.
Potential solutions to prevent illegal totoaba trade
Preventing illegal totoaba trade requires a multifaceted approach. Strengthening traceability measures and enforcement capabilities can help identify and apprehend those involved in illegal fishing and trade activities. Promoting sustainable alternatives to wild totoaba fishing, such as responsible aquaculture, can meet market demand while minimizing the impact on wild populations. Increased public awareness and education about the importance of conservation and responsible consumption can also contribute to curbing the demand for totoaba products. By implementing these solutions, it is possible to protect the totoaba fish and ensure the integrity of international trade laws.
The accusations against The Blue Formula and their alleged illegal trade of totoaba fish highlight the importance of enforcing international trade laws and addressing the challenges posed by illegal fishing and trade activities. The concerns raised by environmental watchdogs and the actions taken by various organizations underscore the need for increased regulation and conservation efforts. Efforts to combat the illegal totoaba trade must be complemented by sustainable farming and trade practices, international cooperation, and public awareness to protect endangered species, such as the totoaba fish and the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. By working together, we can effectively safeguard marine ecosystems and preserve biodiversity for future generations.