No One has been Charged following Vaitele Sea Cucumber Raid

File Photo: 2 Feb 2016 Operation Rico where Samoa Fisheries and Police Maritime raided illegal operation worth 900k ST 📷 Samoa Fisheries.

28 August 2021 Apia Samoa. No one has been charged in relation to a raid of an alleged illegal sea cucumber operation in Vaitele where the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) in collaboration with Police seized fishery products with an estimated value of USD$5,000 tala last Saturday 21 August 2021.

A source told Samoa Global News there may have been an issue with proper search warrants not being secured for the raid. However, Acting Police Commissioner Papalii Monalisa-Keti in response to questions from Samoa Global News said Police are still continuing with their investigations on the alleged sea cucumber export operations, and arrests would be made as a result of investigations.

A Chinese man is suspected to have been conducting operations without a license at his Vaitele home.

According to a MAF press release, “There were freshly processed sea cucumber with an estimated volume of 150 kg (wet weight) and 30 kg being boiled and processed”.

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Dried Sea Cucumber or bėche-de-mer as commonly known in the export market, can retails at an estimated price of USD $20 – $100 per kilogram, depending on the species, according to the release.

It is an offence to operate an establishment for the process, trade and market of any fish without the required licence under Samoa’s Fisheries Management Act 2016.

Live sea cucumber found at the operation were seized and released back into a nearby sea area by the MAF who confirm they stood a good chance of survival.

Marieta H Ilalio