Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, Nov 22 : The Indian Navy apprehended nine fishermen for unlawful poaching of sea cucumbers and seized more than 300 kilograms of the endangered marine species at mid Sea in the wee hours of today.
Preliminary reports quoting police sources said during routine patrol along the South-eastern coast, an Indian naval patrol vessel, led by Commander P Sathyanarayanan, Naval Detachment, Rameswaram spotted two mechanized fishing trawlers sailing suspiciously off Dhanushkodi coast. Before the navy could intercept the two boats, the crews threw several kilograms of sea cucumbers in the Sea. The naval personnel seized more than 300 kilograms of sea cucumbers from the two boats and later handed them over to the State Forest Department for further action.
The boats used for poaching were impounded by the forest authorities. Preliminary investigations revealed the fishermen poached the sea cucumbers using banned fishing nets and after processing the species, would smuggle them to Srilanka where they will fetch lucrative prices.
Sea cucumbers are in great demand in countries like Taiwan, China, Japan and Singapore not only as a delicacy but also used for preparing traditional medicines. Poaching and trading of these marine species, which were listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, was prohibited in India, besides several other countries.