Marine species worth RM1.5mil seized

Smuggling bid foiled: Abeyeratne (middle) showing some of the seized items during the press conference.

KOTA KINABALU: Two trawlers were caught carrying hundreds of kilogrammes of dried turtles and shark fins as well as exotic marine life worth around RM1.5mil off Sabah’s northern Kudat district.The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) intercepted the vessels, which were also transporting seahorses and puffer fish, about 58 nautical miles, west of Simpang Mengayau at 12.35pm on Wednesday.

Kudat MMEA director commander Maurice Grenville Abeyeratne said patrol boats from their zone and Labuan spotted the trawlers following information from their intelligence unit.

He said inspection on the first boat found that it was manned by two Filipinos and an Indonesian, aged between 37 and 52.

“A further check found that the boat was carrying 39 sacks and 14 boxes containing dried turtles weighing around 865kg as well as a sack containing dried shark fins,” he said yesterday.

Abeyeratne said they also found 35 sacks of puffer fish weighing 630kg, 76 sacks of dried clams weighing 1,368kg, some 30kg of sea molluscs, a sack of seahorses weighing 6kg and six boxes containing 150 frozen humphead wrasse fish.

“The other trawler was carrying 2,100kg of dried clams and 375kg of puffer fish,” he said.

He added the boat was manned by two local men, aged 50 and 57, and a 45-year-old Filipino.

He said they brought the suspects, boats and the seized items to the Kudat MMEA jetty for the next course of action.

The case, he said, was being probed under the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008, Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 and Fisheries Act 1985.

He said the suspects were being investigated under the Customs Act 1967, Immigration Act 1959/1963 and the state’s Ports and Harbours Enactment 2002.

Abeyeratne urged people, especially the maritime community, to report any suspicious or criminal activity at sea or in coastal areas by calling the Kudat operations centre at 088-611 858.

People with information may also contact the Malaysia Emergency Response Services’ (MERS) 24-hour 999 hotline.

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