The Bali Water Police (Polair) prevented the illegal trade in 33 protected turtles on December 10, 2012. According to Beritabali.com, the turtles found on board a vessel off Bali’s Tanjung Benoa peninsula were all older than 20 years old.
Most of the 33 turtles confiscated by police weighed more than 60 kilograms, with only a few of the reptiles weighing around 4 kilograms.
Hariadi, spokesman for the Bali police, said: “We suspect these turtles were being imported to Bali. The crew was waiting for high tide in order to land the turtles at Tanjung Benoa. Before they could do this, our officers were able to intercept and confiscate the turtles.”
Water police were observing the boat after receiving reports from the public of a suspicious ship without identifying numbers anchored off Tajung Benoa.
When police raided the ship all they found were turtles. The crew has already left the small ship and was nowhere to be found.
The raid, directly led by Police Commissioner (Kompol Polisi) Putu Suardinata, approached the ship thinking it was carrying smuggled fuel, but instead discovered the horde of illegal turtles.
When no crew returned to the ship, police towed the vessel to Benoa harbor where the turtles were landed for eventual return to the sea.
On Thursday, December 13, 2012 officers from the Bali Conservation Department (BKSDA) and the Water Police released 24 of the turtles back into the sea at Mertasari Beach in Sanur. Of the remaining nine turtles six are considered too ill to be returned to nature at this time and three retained as evidence in a coming trial. The nine remaining turtles are being warded at the Turtle Conservation Center on Serangan Island.
Darori Wonodiputro, the Director General of Forest and Nature Conservation (PHKA), who accompanied police during the turtle release said it was time for tougher penalties to be applied against people caught smuggling protected species. Darori said: “The laws are being revised by the House of Representatives (DPR).” I hope the possible penalties for those convicted of such crimes will be for a minimum 5 years and maximum 20 years.”
Police have identified an individual sought in connection with the case via information provided by the captain of the ship. He has reportedly fled to the island of Sumbawa.
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