Last Wednesday, New York authorities charged a man for illegally possessing seven
Sandbar sharks, with intent to sell.
While illicit trafficking is typically thought of in the context of drugs, weapons, and
people, it often takes more exotic forms. The poaching and animal trafficking trades
were revealed when Joshua Seguine of Dutchess County, New York, was discovered
with seven Sandbar sharks in his above-ground basement swimming pool (ABC7 New
York). After being arrested, Seguine admitted his intention to sell these legally protected
fish. He advertised on the platform MonsterFishKeepers.com in efforts to garner clients,
but environmental officials bit instead.
Suspicious New York conservation officials acquired a search warrant of Seguine’s
property based on a 2017 police encounter in Georgia. In Georgia, Seguine was
arrested for driving without a license and the possession of five undersized sharks in a
fish tank. He admitted to the Department of Natural Resources his intent to sell the
sharks, along with five other sharks in New York. The recent search yielded seven live
Sandbar sharks, as well as two dead Leopard sharks, one dead hammerhead shark,
and a few remains of the endangered smalltooth sawfish (ABC7 New York). Seguine’s
improvised habitat obviously lacked the necessary elements to hold these fish in
captivity. State Attorney General Letitia James emphasized, “We will not tolerate
anyone who preys on protected species to line their pockets.” The surviving sharks now
happily reside in the New York aquarium at Coney Island, while Joshua Seguine has
been convicted and fined $5,000.
While it is legal to own certain sharks, high regulations and costly requirements turn
many clients to black market sources. According to the New York Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC) potential owners of these exotic fish must pay
around 11,500 dollars for Sandbar, as well as extensive costs for adequate fish tanks.
Ken Moran, founder of private business Shark Supply, always examines the aquatic
systems of his customers. Mr. Moran added “I refuse to sell to people if they can’t
provide an adequate system” — this includes tank size and filtration system (New York
Times). However, poachers like Joshua Seguine undercut the legal transactions of
people like Ken Moran. The extra steps taken for the shark’s well being are removed,
and legal businesses lose profit.
Overfishing from negligent fishermen or poachers has also led to shark population
decline. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Sandbar Sharks as a
vulnerable population, severely overfished in the western North Atlantic (WAAY).
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ARTICLE: DAVID NISSING
FBA U.S. NEWS EDITOR: CARSON WOLF
PHOTO CREDITS: INSIDE EDITION