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Saturday May 12, 2012

Man and fish in the net

THE Fisheries Department in Penang has foiled a Taiwanese man’s attempt to smuggle 241 internationally protected arowana worth around RM128,500 to China.

Its state director Mohd Sidek Md Jahaya said two officers from the department intercepted the 35-year-old man at the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas after receiving public tip-off.

He said according to the information received, the man bought the fish from a farm in Kedah a day before attempting to smuggle them out to Guangzhou in China.

Mohd Sidek added that during the arrest at 7.30am yesterday, the live arowana fish, measuring between 7.6cm and 25.4cm, were found packed in four plastic bags filled with water and they were in two luggage bags.

“We believe this is not the first time the man smuggled out the arowana fish as based on the data obtained from the Immigration Department, the man had travelled to Penang five times since December last year,” he told a press conference yesterday.

Fish out of water: Mohd Sidek (right) and his enforcement officers showing the seized live arowana fish packed inside a travelling luggage.

He said each arowana, which are protected under the International Trade of Endangered Species Act 2008, could fetch between RM500 and RM1,500 in the international market.

The man, who is currently under remand, faces a RM10,000 fine for each fish or a maximum fine of RM1mil or a jail term not exceeding seven years if convicted under the Act.

Mohd Sidek said this was the first arowana smuggling case in Penang for this year.

“We are looking for the mastermind and investigating whether any international syndicate is involved in this case,” he added.

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