source– A Seattle-area fish processor who hoped to cash in on China’s appetite for sea cucumber faces years in prison for his role in a $1.5m poaching scheme that rocked an already unstable fishery.
Federal prosecutors claim Hoon Namkoong led a years-long operation to poach and sell sea cucumbers as regulators were cutting the struggling Washington state fishery. Dozens of divers are also implicated in the poaching ring. Namkoong bought at least 250,000lb of stolen sea cucumber taken illegally from waters once rich with the echinoderms.
A leading US sea cucumber wholesaler, Namkoong made millions selling to buyers domestically and in China, where demand has spiked for sea cucumber. Namkoong, 62, faces up to two years in prison when he is sentenced on Friday.
Let me start off by saying poachers are scum. They all deserve to be killed by the animals they take advantage of so brutally. In the interest of time, the sea cucumber poaching ring should probably just be shot, but the point remains. Poachers are the lowest form of human existence.
That being said, if I could put myself in my friend Hoon’s shoes here, I can see how tempting it would be to illegally acquire countless sea cucumbers. In fact, if he hasn’t immediately sold all of them on the black market and instead kept them for observation, I’d actually applaud the initiative. Sea cucumbers are the weirdest things in the world. Like, undoubtedly. We know absolutely nothing about them. We can’t tell how old they are, what gender they are (my guess is Maverique), why they act the way they do, or why they sometimes kill themselves by spitting their guts out. They’re practically aliens, and no one is making an effort to understand them better. Except Hoon Namkoong.
Again, he turned out to be nothing but an charlatan, but I refuse to believe he never had a passion for sea cucumber discovery. The first time he held one of the strange creatures I know something went off in his head. I know he felt like discovering the truth about them was his life’s calling. And somewhere along the way, that love got corrupted by the pull of capitalism and corruption. A sad story, indeed. How many promising careers have been derailed by the poisoning touch of crime? At least one, that’s for sure.
I don’t want to stretch myself too thin, here, but I’m willing to take up Hoon’s original mission and make some real discoveries in the sea cucumber world. It’s true that we haven’t made any progress in the field for 30,000 years, but sometimes it takes a special individual to break through. I firmly believe I am that individual. I vow that, by the time I die, I will have found out, at the very least, I will be able to tell what gender, if any, a sea cucumber is. That alone would make me a legend. If I can add in finding out how old they are? They’ll build me a statue. Can’t say I wouldn’t deserve it, honestly. Someone get me a sea cucumber. I’ve got some work to do.