February 3, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

700 kg of trepangs worth about 1 million euros seized

An extremely expensive commodity, holothurian or “sea cucumber”, was discovered in huge numbers among cargoes preparing for shipment on Tuesday evening, December 20, in the port of Killini.

The complaint, filed anonymously, concerned a cargo weighing more than 700 kg. Trepang is a very expensive snack and is in demand in Asia. Holothurians originally from Greece are even considered a top quality product, as a result of which they are very expensive. Cena “sea cucumbers” exceeds 1100 euros per kilogram. The consignment was found in a truck en route from Kefalonia to Killini, and the prosecutor is investigating whether there is an “organized criminal scheme” or if this is an isolated case.

Fishing for an endangered species of marine life is not illegal and is carried out on the basis of specific provisions (weight more than 180 grams per piece, the number of up to 400 pieces per day, the corresponding declaration submitted to the system, etc.). However, in some cases, artisanal “workshops” have been identified for the illegal processing, standardization and packaging of sea cucumbers destined for export to Europe or other regions of the world.

In this case, the law considers the catch to be poaching and is punished accordingly.

Despite its very “unpleasant appearance”, the sea cucumber in question is considered one of the best delicacies in Asia (especially in China and Japan), and today there are about 1250 species worldwide. At the same time, Japanese namako is considered the best in terms of quality and price, often reaching or exceeding US$ 3,500 per kg. It is featured on the menus of Asia’s finest restaurants, as well as select (mostly Chinese) delis.

The “psoliongko” (ψολιόγκο, as it is called in Greece) craze in Asia began around the 1980s, when the sea dweller began to establish itself as a delicacy for the upper classes. The rise of the middle class in the 90s made this delicacy available to more people, especially in China, with the result that demand for it has now increased significantly.

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