Chennai: The Indian Coast Guard in a joint operation with the Forest Department seized 1200 kg of sea cucumber being smuggled off the coast of Mandapam, Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday (July 6).
They arrested two persons who were trying to ship the consignment abroad illegally.
The joint patrol was initiated after intelligence was received regarding the illegal trans-shipment of sea cucumber in the late intervening hours of Monday and Tuesday. Operating in the dark of the night, the officials monitored the movement of a suspicious vessel and intercepted it.
“Boarding the vessel in the morning hours of Tuesday, officials recovered 100 gunny bags of sea cucumber weighing 1.2 tonnes and brought the two-crewed vessel to Mandapam North Fishing Harbour. Investigation revealed that the bags of Sea cucumber were meant to be shipped across the International Maritime Boundary Line (KMBL) under the cover of the night,” the ICG said in a statement.
Sea cucumbers are an important constituent of the coral ecosystem and are categorised as an ‘endangered species’ with their harvest being banned under the Wildlife Protection Act of 2001. They play an important role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems.
Much of the sea cucumbers smuggled out of Tamil Nadu go to Sri Lanka and other South-East Asian countries, where they are consumed as food and used to prepare medicines.