CBI takes over case of sea cucumber smuggling racket that sends rare marine animal to China

CBI takes over case of sea cucumber smuggling racket that sends rare marine animal to China

The Central Bureau of Investigation has taken over the probe involving smuggling of sea cucumbers and taxidermized sea cucumbers that are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act. CBI took over the case from the Forest Department of Lakshadweep.

Sea Cucumbers are marine animals found on the sea floor. It is an endangered species and protected under the Wildlife Act. There is a huge market for sea cucumbers in China, Southeast Asia and Japan where it is a delicacy and eaten in raw or dried form. Sea cucumbers are also used for medicinal purposes.

The central probe agency has filed an FIR against four people under sections of Wildlife (Protection) Act. The case was based on the allegations of hunting 46 live Sea Cucumbers and 173 Taxidermized Cucumbers from the sea.

“Sea cucumber is very important for protecting the coral Island of Lakshadweep and also as important for the marine ecosystem as a tiger is in the wildlife,” said the CBI.

The agency will look into gangs that are active in Lakshadweep and Sri Lanka.

According to the FIR filed on January 10, information was received that some fishing boats are engaged in illegal collection and trade of sea cucumber, which is locally called ‘Koka’ at Suheli Cheriyakara Island, Kara Siri Kara Island, Kavaratti.

Working on the information a joint team of officers of police department, Department of Fisheries and Department of Environment Forest went visited the island on January 11.

“The team found a fishing boat namely Khyber 2 in the sea with four people on the western side of the island. The team went near the fishing boat and enquired them about the whereabouts and they informed that they were here for fishing and had collected fishes. The team then inspected the board and found eight bags filled with 98 big white dead sea cucumbers stuffed with salt with their intestines removed and 74 black dead sea cucumbers artificially preserved with salt,” read the FIR.

Later the teams also recovered 46 live sea cucumbers present in the fish collection tank. The boat was seized along with 171 dead sea cucumbers, 46 lives live sea cucumbers, two salt bags with 81 packets of salt, 48 empty bags and 75 big polythene covers. The live sea cucumbers were immediately released in the sea.

A case was filed against Salmanual Faris, Irfanuddin, Ramesh Khan and Mohammad Ali Kodipalli. All are residents of Lakshadweep.