About thirty tonnes of beach-der-mer worth twenty million dollars was confiscated by the Fisheries Ministry from a seafood company in Labasa earlier this year.
The Ministry confirms this was the same company whose processing facility in Suva was raided last year, where under-sized beche-de-mer along with other banned species of fish were confiscated.
Fisheries Officer, Meli Raicebe says this was one of the biggest raids conducted so far.
“We were able to confiscate thirty tonnes of tried sea cucumber and these were in its dried form and we were also able to confiscate another fresh sea cucumber that was seen in the vicinity and these were the ones that were purchased on the day the confiscation occurred. But it was around twenty million dollars in terms of money that would have been spend that’s the value of this product. But this can easily increase when it is actually sold in the export market where different species would be sold according to the grades.”
Raicebe says the ministry official’s kept an eye on the company’s facility in Labasa with the help of police officers for three days before the actual raid was conducted.
“The operator which was basically the same operator had his facility raided in Vatuwaqa thought that government was going to lift the ban but we confirmed with him that this ban would probably go for another four years or five years.”
Minister responsible, Semi Koroilavesau says they are thankful to the public who are helping make these raids successful by giving tip-offs.
“Legal procedures and processors are now going through the court for it to be prosecuted, it is difficult to carry out a business of exporting beach-der-mer because we are basically working in coordination with other line ministries.”
The Ministry says spot fines for any entity carrying out this illegal activity is $20,000 but if it’s taken to court for not paying the required amount -they might be pressed with a higher fine or even given a prison term.