Hamza Taib (second right) inspecting the seized shells.
KOTA KINABALU: Dozens of giant clams weighing nearly 20 tonnes were seized from nine Vietnamese fishermen at the Mengalum Island near here on Monday.
The giant seized clams valued at about RM500, 000, is an endangered and protected marine species in Sabah were found on a boat operated by a Sabah and Vietnamese joint venture company.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said nine of the crew on board at that time of the arrest in the ongoing Ops Cantas Laut by marine police at about 10.30am on April 10.
He said although this was the first arrest and seizure of such nature, marine police believe the culprits have been harvesting giant clams illegally for quite some time.
“Police would also be investigating the boat company here, while the nine Vietnamese will be referred to the Land and Survey Department for further actions,” he said.
Hamza explained that the case was first referred to the Fisheries Department but was told that it was under the Land and Survey Department’s jurisdiction as ‘they were taken from the seabed, which is considered part of the land’.
Meanwhile, he said the shells, which could be used for cosmetic and decorative purposes were protected items and cannot be harvested or sold without a license from the relevant authorities.
“Many people might not know about this,” he said, adding that giant clams were very rare, as out of the less then 10 species in the world, seven were known to be found in Sabah.