TN coastal police search boats after seizure of sea cucumbers

The Tamil Nadu coastal police are conducting searches in several mechanised boats and questioning fishermen after one tonne of sea cucumbers was seized while it was about to be shipped illegally to Sri Lankaon Saturday. Three people have been arrested for processing and smuggling sea cucumbers to Sri Lanka. Sources in the coastal police told IANS that even after several awareness programmes were conducted against sea cucumber smuggling, there is unabated smuggling of the endangered species from the area. It may be noted that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified sea-cucumbers (Kadal Attai) as an endangered species. The sea cucumber is a food and medicinal supplement in several countries like China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Japan and some other far eastern countries. According to the police and forest authorities, one metric tonne of sea cucumber is valued at Rs 30 lakh in India but if it is smuggled into countries like Sri Lanka or China, the amount is four to five times the value in India. Meanwhile, Armstrong Fernando, Chairman, ‘All India Fishermen Congress’, the fishermen wing of the Congress, said that there were 10 types of sea cucumbers in the waters adjoining the Ramanathapuram coast and that they were capable of laying lakhs of eggs in every six months.