Last month, Coastal Fisheries Officers from the Bureau of Marine Resources intercepted four passengers attempting to illegally export marine resources to Guam.

This was during routine cooler inspections at the Marine Resources Inspection Station at the Palau International Airport.

On the 18th last month, Officers Johnny Mongami and Guestler Ngiralmau inspected a cooler of fish and discovered it also contained bags with 10 black teatfish (Bakelungal) and 56 sandfish (Molech).

Since 2012, there has been a ban on the export of six species of sea cucumbers, including the two species seized in this incident.

In further investigation, Officers Nazaria Tutiy, Alfred Tuelbang and Cyandal Williams confiscated adult (Kemedukl) and juvenile (Berdebed) bumphead parrotfish meat. The meat was packaged to look like “billum” (processed tapioca which has been wrapped and boiled).

The fish was filleted, wrapped in plastic wrap and re-wrapped inside ‘mengchongch’ or ‘keyai’ from betel nut wrap material. There were 6 fillets, weighing a total of 6.8 pounds.

The Marine Protection Act prohibits fishing for selling, buying, receiving, possessing, and exporting bumphead parrotfish.

The same officers also intercepted two separate illegal export attempts of marine and terrestrial resources on the last day of February. Hanford Hank assisted and was a witness to the incidents.

One passenger attempted to export 15 fruit bats (Olik) (8 pounds), 18 ziplock bags of wild boring giant clam meat (Oruer) (11 pounds) and 7 juvenile bumphead parrotfish (Berdebed) (34 pounds). Another passenger tried to export unidentified sea turtle intestines and blood which had been cooked and seasoned (Freetada).

Taking fruit bats is legal in Palau but import to Guam or CNMI is illegal. Exporting giant clams, except cultured clams, is prohibited under the Marine Protection Act.

All exports of cultured clams require the exporter to provide proof of origin before obtaining a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Fauna and Flora(CITES) permit from BMR.

There is currently a moratorium on the taking or killing of hawksbill turtles until April 2021 and it is also prohibited by US authorities to import sea turtles to Guam.

All evidence collected during the incidents was taken to the Ministry of Justice, Division of Fish & Wildlife Protection for further processing. Information and booklets on Domestic Fishing Laws are available at the Bureau of Marine Resources Office in Malakal. (PR)