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Brazilian group sues over shark killings

Brasilia, Brazil -- Asia's insatiable demand for shark fin soup has led to the illegal killing of nearly 300,000 sharks off Brazil, an environmental group alleges.

The Environmental Justice Institute in Brazil has accused a seafood exporter, Siglo do Brasil Comercio, of illegally killing sharks and is suing for what it calls massive damage to the marine ecosystem, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The group is suing the company for $790 million in damages for its alleged sale of 290,000 sharks since 2009.

Many of the sharks were thrown back into the sea after their fins were taken for clandestine export, the group charges.

"As we can't put a value on life, we have calculated the impact on the ecosystem," group director Cristiano Pacheco said.

"We think the shark fins were exported clandestinely, in containers, likely from the ports of Rio Grande do Sul to the Asian market," he said.

It is illegal to separate shark fins from carcasses in Brazil, but the high value placed by Asian diners on the fins has encouraged the illicit practice, the BBC said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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