Four Japanese nationals accused of biosmuggling were fined after they were captured illegally collecting butterflies and insects in northern Turkey. Unidentified Japanese nationals were detained after locals tipped off the authorities that foreigners were catching insects and butterflies in a national park in Gümüşhane, a northern province, yesterday. A search of their bags revealed 100 butterflies and 105 insects. Suspects were fined a total of TL 155,000 ($56,500) for the violation of the illegal collection of insects and harming the biodiversity.
Turkey's Black Sea region, notable for its vast forests home to countless endemic plants, insects and other animals, is among the popular targets of biosmugglers. Scores of foreigners were detained and handed down fines for attempting to smuggle plants and animals in the provinces of Artvin, Rize and Gümüşhane in the north in recent years. Authorities admit the fines issued under a law to protect the environment are not a deterrent and pledged to introduce new regulations with heavier sentences against the biosmugglers.