Hong Kong seizes smuggled Aust lobsters

·1-min read

Hong Kong authorities have seized more than 1800kg of live lobsters and sea cucumbers believed to be bound for mainland China, months after Beijing restricted imports of the crustaceans from Australia as tensions escalated between the countries.

Hong Kong Customs said in a statement it had seized 890kg of live lobsters and 930kg of sea cucumbers, with a total estimated value of 10 million Hong Kong dollars ($A1.8 million) during the operation on Monday.

Two men, aged 40 and 45, suspected to be connected to the case were also arrested, the statement said.

The seizures come after a recent surge in the import volume of Australian lobsters to Hong Kong following China's imposition of an unofficial ban on imports late last year.

Sea cucumbers and lobsters are considered delicacies in Chinese cuisine, and China had previously accounted for more than 90 per cent of Australia's lobster exports.

The origin of the smuggled goods was still under investigation as the boxes seized were not labelled, according to Lui Siu-fai, the divisional commander of HK customs' Syndicate Crimes Investigation Bureau.

"I believe that most of the smuggled goods were (to be) shipped to mainland China," he said during a news conference on Tuesday.

The seizure comes after a similar anti-smuggling operation in October confiscated 5300kg of Australian lobster worth about $A740,842 and arrested 13 people.

Officials said monthly imports of Australian lobster to Hong Kong have more than doubled following the ban.

China's lobster ban came after the Australian government pushed for an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

Beijing has since blocked imports of other Australian imports, such as wine, barley, cotton and coal.

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