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9,000kg sea turtle meat seized
Published on: Tuesday, December 05, 2023
By: Jonathan Nicholas
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9,000kg sea turtle meat seized
Jauteh showing pictures of the dried sea turtle meat and other items seized by marine police.
Kota Kinabalu: Nine tonnes of dried sea turtle meat and other endangered marine animal products worth more than RM5.2 million were seized from a trawler in Kudat waters.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jauteh Dikun said the seized turtle meat is estimated to be worth RM4.5 million, with some 12,000 turtles brutally killed.  

He said four men on board the boat managed to escape in the 11.15am raid by patrolling marine police on Nov 29 in the waters between Banggi Island and Mangsee Reef.

“When approached, the suspects were seen abandoning the trawler by jumping into the water and swimming to the shallow part of the Reef.

“Soon after, a pump boat could be seen approaching the suspects. We believe they are part of the same group. The boat then made its way to international waters,” he told a press conference, here, Monday.

Jauteh said the seizure was the biggest involving sea turtles this year.

“The dried sea turtle meat were kept in some 300 gunny bags, which can be sold at RM500 per kg in the international market.

“Also seized were two tonnes of various clam shells and sea snails, 90kg of dried sea cucumbers, 150kg of dried seahorses, 80kg of dried seaweed, 0.5kg of dried fish maw and shark fin, 200kg of dried grouper, 15kg of bird’s nests 400kg of various fish,” he said.

The trawler, registered to a local in Semporna and worth RM300,000, was also seized. 

Police are currently investigating whether its owner was involved in the activities.

Jauteh said investigations revealed that the suspects were not locals and that the turtles were caught in both national and neighbouring country’s waters.

“The turtles were believed caught in the Sulu Sea and South China Sea, and intended for the Southeast Asian markets.

“We believe the suspects are not an international syndicate but unscrupulous fishermen selling to certain groups.

“The matter is being investigated by the Wildlife Department and police will provide assistance whenever needed,” he said, adding the suspects were believed to have been operating for the past month based on the conditions of the dried turtle meat.

Jauteh hoped locals would be more proactive in preserving protected species, and urged fishermen to help channel information.

“Don’t leave it all to the enforcers. Take care of our marine life together, especially the sea turtles which are a tourist attraction for our country.” 

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