Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thai boat with 2000kgs of sea cucumber seized in AN waters

CG Ship intercepts Thai poaching boat with 2000 kgs of Sea Cucumber


Based on an information received from a naval aircraft on routine surveillance Indian Coast Guard launched operation on 22 May 2007 to intercept unidentified fishing vessels operating in the EEZ of Andaman and Nicobar Islands near invisible bank SO miles east of Port Blair. Coast Guard Ship Bhikhaiji Cama under the command of Comdt SK Sahu was sailed from Port Blair within one hour of receipt of information.The ship weathered the rough seas and proceeded at maximum speed towards the reported position of the vessels arriving there with in three hours. However, on arrival no vessel was either located visually or on the radar. Anticipating that the vessels would have moved in the easterly direction, the Coast Guard Ship proceeded in the easterly direction maintaining high degree of surveillance. Because of high degree of alertness on the part of the CG Ship's crew an unidentified vessel was detected on radar at about 0300 am on the night of 23 May 07. Anticipating the radar contact to be the suspected vessel, the Coast Guard Ship manned its armament and closed in to find a fishing vessel trying to evade detection and proceeding at high speed to cross-over the Indian EEZ. However, the CG ship managed to over power the vessel after one and a half hour of hot pursuit and identified the vessel as that of Thailand with 31 fishermen on board (all Thai nationals). Immediately a Boarding Party was dispatched and the vessel was searched to reveal approximate 2000 kgs of sea cucumbers. Some of the sea cucumbers were found alive spread over the deck to be stored in frozen holds.On initial interrogation of the Thai fishermen by the Coast Guard personnel it was established that the vessel was engaged in poaching of sea cucumbers over the shallow depths of invisible bank and had collected the entire 2000 kgs using diving equipments fitted en board the vessel. Having violated the provisions of law the vessel was apprehended at sea and was brought to Port Blair in the morning of 24 May 07. The vessel along with the crew have since than been handed over to the A&N Police for further legal action as per the MZI Act 1981 as well as under the Wild Life Protection Act 1972 as sea cucumber is a prohibited specie under Schedule I of the said act.As per the records, it is observed that this is the first time that a Thai vessel has been found engaged in poaching of sea cucumbers using different modus operandi as compared to Myanmarese who have been apprehended for poaching sea cucumbers near to the coast. The catch of sea cucumbers by the Thai vessel was stored in ice whereas the Myanmarese generally dry their catch.The Coast Guard ships and aircraft have intensified surveillance in the seas of A&N islands with a view to prevent any such activity, a communication received here said

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