Customs officials have seized about 700 kilogrammes of European glass eels worth about 40 million baht at Suvarnabhumi airport, smuggled from Romania for sale in restaurants.
Customs chief Krisada Chinavicharana said yesterday that customs investigators learned the protected elvers would be smuggled in from Europe and falsely declared as frozen prawns. Two consignments of the young eels were found at the airport, on Wednesday and on Thursday. The first comprised three boxes weighing 357kg in total and the second also three boxes but with a total weight of 352kg.
European eels were economically important in Europe and had long been popular in expensive restaurants. In mid-2009 the Netherlands government prohibited catching them in October and November in order to prevent their extinction because the population had plunged by 95% in the past four decades, Mr Krisada said.
The smuggled fish were young glass eels, a naturally transparent breed of eel. They were possibly en route to another country where the dish is popular, said the customs chief, who valued them at 40 million baht. The department would question the company that made the false import declarations, find those responsible and prosecute them, he said.