KOTA KINABALU: A fishing boat attempted to escape with dried turtle meat and other endangered marine animal products worth over RM5mil off Sabah’s northern Kudat district.
A marine police vessel spotted the boat, with four suspicious men onboard, at the Mangsee Reef waters at about 11.15am on Wednesday (Nov 29) and immediately instructed them to stop for an inspection.
Region Four Marine Police Commander Asst Comm Ahmad Ariffin said the boat instead suddenly turned and headed to shallow waters near the Mangsee Reef.
“When the boat stopped, four men were seen abandoning the ship by jumping into the water and swimming to the shallow part of the Reef,” he said when contacted on Thursday (Nov 30).
“Soon after, a pump boat could be seen approaching the suspects. We believe they are part of the same group. The boat then made its way quickly to international waters at the Malaysia-Philippine border,” he added.
Ahmad said the marine police vessel was not able to pursue the suspects due to the shallow water in the area.
On checking the abandoned fishing boat, he said, they found many sacks onboard.
“They contained dried meat including nine tonnes of turtle meat as well as two tonnes of dried cockles and sea snails.
“Also found were 200kg of grouper fish, 150kg of seahorses, sea cucumber (90kg), seaweed (80kg) and 5kg of shark fins, all of which had been dried.
We estimate the items to be valued more than RM5mil,” he said, adding investigations have been framed under the state’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.