Indian Naval Ship Batti Malv on March 8 apprehended three boats with 23 Myanmarese poachers off Interview Island during a routine patrol along the western side of the Andaman and Nicobar group of islands.
According to a defence press release, the warship sighted the suspicious boats and approached them, but the poachers tried to flee using the cover of darkness. However, the ship chased the boats for over two hours on the high seas and finally apprehended the poachers. “Poor visibility and proximity of shallow waters made it difficult to undertake the task of intercepting and investigating the fast moving boats. During the hot pursuit, the ship had to resort to firing warning shots. The ship detained the boats and apprehended all 23 poachers on board,” said the release.
While the naval ship was towing the two boats, a third Myanmarese poaching boat was also sighted. The ship pursued this boat in spite of being restricted in manoeuvring by the tow. Taking advantage of this, the boat managed to reach the shore near the Interview Island lighthouse where after grounding the boat, the poachers fled into the dense jungle. The ship’s crew could not extract the Myanmarese boat from the rocky shore. However, the boat was made non-seaworthy to prevent it from being used again by the absconding poachers. When alerted, the Marine Police of the island group launched a search party in Interview Island and apprehended eight Myanmarese poachers from the jungles.
During preliminary investigation, it was revealed that the poachers intended to extract sea cucumber and sea shells. Sea cucumber weighing 25 kilogram was also recovered from their boats, which also carried diving equipment with accessories, large quantity of diesel, drinking water and food items which showed that they wanted to carry out prolonged poaching activity in Indian waters, said the release.
The boats and poachers were towed to Diglipur harbour and handed over to the police. This is the latest in list of apprehensions as a part of the enhanced coastal security initiatives undertaken by the Tri-services Command in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With this, the total number of poachers apprehended so far this year has become 116.