Hong Kong seizes smuggled Australian lobsters amid China ban

Hong Kong and mainland authorities have seized about $728,000 worth of smuggled Australian lobsters believed to be bound for the mainland, after China restricted imports of the crustacean amid escalating tensions with Australia.

The seizure came after a recent surge in the import volume of Australian lobsters to Hong Kong, after China imposed an unofficial ban on the imports late last year.

Australian lobsters seized by the Hong Kong Customs at an anti-smuggling operation, are displayed at the news conference in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Hong Kong and mainland authorities have seized more than $4.2 million worth of smuggled Australian lobsters believed to be bound for the mainland, after China banned imports of the crustacean amid escalating tensions with Australia. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) (AP)

Officials said monthly imports of Australian lobster to Hong Kong have since more than doubled.

China’s lobster ban came after the Australian government pushed for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

China has since blocked trade on other Australian imports, such as wine, barley, cotton and coal.

Australian lobsters seized by the Hong Kong Customs at an anti-smuggling operation, are displayed at the news conference in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Hong Kong and mainland authorities have seized more than $4.2 million worth of smuggled Australian lobsters believed to be bound for the mainland, after China banned imports of the crustacean amid escalating tensions with Australia. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) (AP)

“We believe that smuggling syndicates might make use of improper means to smuggle Australian lobsters to mainland China to seek profit,” said Rita Li of Hong Kong’s Syndicate Crimes Investigation Bureau.

Australian lobsters seized by the Hong Kong Customs at an anti-smuggling operation, are displayed at the news conference in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Hong Kong and mainland authorities have seized more than $4.2 million worth of smuggled Australian lobsters believed to be bound for the mainland, after China banned imports of the crustacean amid escalating tensions with Australia. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) (AP)

She said the shortage of Australian lobsters on the mainland has fuelled the smuggling via Hong Kong.

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