In a swift operation, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) team at Mandapam, Tamilnadu seized two tonnes of sea cucumber, a banned marine species. Working on a tip-off about illegal transhipment of sea cucumber in the wee hours of 19 Sep, the ICG team swung into action and tracked the suspect boat involved in likely smuggling. ICG teams were deployed in Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay areas to effectively cordon the likely escape by sea route.

Subsequently, the boat was found anchored about 15 kms off Vedalai South of Mandapam without its crew at 10.30 am on Sunday and boarded by team of Coast Guard. The boarding team of ICG Hovercraft H-183 recovered 200 gunny bags of sea cucumber weighing 2000 kg.  The boat alongwith seized sea cucumbers was brought to Mandapam near Rameshwaram, Tamilnadu and handed over to forest Officials. The value of seized sea cucumbers is reported to be about 8 Crores INR.

On investigation, it was revealed that the consignment was planned for transhipment across the International Maritime Boundary Line during dark hours. Sea cucumbers are in high demand in China and Southeast Asia. It may be recalled that earlier in the month of July, Coast Guard team at Mandapam had seized about 1200 kg of sea cucumber and apprehended two personnel.

Sea cucumber in India is treated as an endangered species listed under schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. It is primarily smuggled from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka in fishing vessels from Ramanathapuram and Tuticorin districts.