CHENNAI: The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) team at Mandapam, Tamilnadu, seized two tonnes of sea cucumber, a prohibited marine species, in a quick operation.
Working on a tip-off about illegal sea cucumber transshipment in the early hours of September 19, the ICG team swung into action and tracked the suspect boat involved in possible smuggling.
ICG teams were deployed in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay areas to effectively block the likely sea route of escape.
The boat was later discovered anchored about 15 kilometres off Vedalai, south of Mandapam, without its crew at 10.30 a.m. on Sunday and boarded by a Coast Guard team.
The ICG Hovercraft H-183 boarding team recovered 200 gunny bags of sea cucumber weighing 2000 kg.
The value of seized sea cucumbers is reported to be about 8 Crores INR.
The boat, along with the seized sea cucumbers, was transported to Mandapam, near Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, and turned over to forest officials.
Following an investigation, it was discovered that the consignment was scheduled for transshipment across the International Maritime Boundary Line during the night. In China and Southeast Asia, sea cucumbers are in high demand. It may be remembered that earlier in July, a Coast Guard team at Mandapam seized approximately 1200 kg of sea cucumber and apprehended two personnel.
In India, sea cucumber is classified as an endangered species under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
It is primarily smuggled from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka on fishing vessels from the districts of Ramanathapuram and Tuticorin.
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