The Indian Coast Guard and the Tamil Nadu Forest Department recently recovered almost two tonnes of sea cucumber that was suspected to be smuggled to Sri Lanka via Indian waters. Based on a tip-off, a team of Coast Guard stationed at Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay tracked the boat allegedly carrying the illegal shipment and prevented it from leaving the Indian territorial waters. According to PTI, they seized 200 gunny bags of sea cucumbers, valued at around INR 8 crore.
According to a senior forest official, a patrol found the boat moving suspiciously near Pamban in Rameswaram. They then informed the Coast Guard who further conducted the operation. The PTI report further reads the boat was found “anchored about 15 km off Vedalai South of Mandapam without its crew”.
“Investigation revealed that the consignment was planned for transshipment across the International Maritime Boundary Line during dark hours,” stated a release by Ministry of Defence.
#ProtectionofEndangeredSpecies@IndiaCoastGuard hovercraft boarded a suspicious ⛵ 05 miles south of #Mandapam, TN #19Sep & seized 2000kg #SeaCucumber under wildlife Protection act 1972. ⛵ handed over to Forest Dept #HarKaamDeshKeNaampic.twitter.com/e1w2skNhx3
— Indian Coast Guard (@IndiaCoastGuard) September 19, 2021
For the unversed, sea cucumber is in high demand in China and South-East Asia, where it is consumed as a delicacy. It is generally eaten raw, pickled or fried. Due to its bland taste, sea cucumber is mixed with spices and other kind of meats to enhance the flavours. Besides, it is also used for various medicinal purposes.
Sea cucumber is a marine species that helps keep up a balance the marine ecosystem. India treats sea cucumber as an endangered species and has listed it in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.