Gordon Ramsey threatened at gunpoint by shark-finners

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Chef Gordon Ramsey was doused in petrol and threatened at gunpoint while filming a TV programme about shark finning.

The chef was in Costa Rica filming part of the Channel 4’s Big Fish Fight Season about the illegal trade in shark fins.

Gordon Ramsay is quoted in the Daily Mail saying: "It is a multibillion dollar industry, completely unregulated. We traced some of the biggest culprits to Costa Rica. The day before we got there, a Taiwanese crew landed a haul of hammerhead sharks – police searched the boat and found bails of cocaine.

"These gangs operate from places that are like forts, with barbed-wire perimeters and gun towers.

"At one, I managed to shake off the people who were keeping us away, ran up some stairs to a rooftop and looked down to see thousands and thousands of fins, drying on rooftops as far as the eye could see.

"When I got back downstairs they tipped a barrel of petrol over me. Then these cars with blacked out windows suddenly appeared from nowhere, trying to block us in. We dived into the car and peeled off."
 
Later in the trip he and the film crew managed to talk their way onto one of the fishing boats involved in illegal shark fin trading.

He said: "In a quiet moment I dived from the boat to swim with marlin. I swam under the keel and saw this sack tied to it. I opened it and it was full of shark fins. The minute I threw this bag on deck, everyone started screaming and shouting.

"Back at the wharf, there were people pointing rifles at us to stop us filming. A van pulled up and these seedy characters made us stand against the wall. The police came and advised us to leave the country. They said ‘if you set one foot in there, they’ll shoot you’.”

Despite a governmental crackdown in 2000, Costa Rica’s trade in shark fins is thought to be one of the most important in the world and is controlled by the Taiwanese and Indonesian Mafia. One port in Costa Rica alone is thought to receive three ship loads of fins every week and globally the trade is worth up to US$1 billion a year. A single pound of shark fin can sell for more than £150 so it is no surprise that anything from 73-100 million sharks are killed for their fins alone every year.