By Anil S.
The recent crackdown on Myanmarese poachers by the Indian Coast Guard has brought to light the increasing menace of poaching around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by people from neighbouring countries. An increasing number of poaching incidents by people from Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka were reported recently.
“Similar incidents have been there earlier also. Most of the poachers apprehended by the Coast Guard this time are those who have been deported to their respective countries after completing their sentences here for the same offences. Those taken into custody in connection with poaching are mostly Myanmarese,” officials with the coastal security agencies in the Andaman and Nicobar islands said.
The poachers taken into custody by the coastal security agencies have been handed over to the local police. They will be booked under the Maritime Act of India and produced before the court for further action, the officials said. It was only a couple of days ago that the Coast Guard apprehended 40 poachers along with three boats from Myanmar.
Officials with the Coast Guard point out that the poachers are mainly targeting the rich underwater biodiversity including corals, shells, sea cucumber and ornamental fish around the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
“In the Andaman and Nicobar islands there’s immense biodiversity which is in high demand in the international market. That’s the main reason why they are coming here even after being apprehended several times,” the officials said.
It has been pointed out that though poachers are being taken into custody on a regular basis, there’s no end to the incidents of poaching. “There’s no stringent punishment for the apprehended poachers from other countries. Also there’s a strong nexus between the poachers and the local agents. These are the reasons why these incidents are reported regularly. It’s high time we developed a more severe mechanism to deal with them,” the officials said.