Seven boats belong to shark poachers manage to escape from officials in Raja Ampat, West Papua, according to an NGO.
This is the third case since 2005 and it’s the biggest,” Ketut Sarjana Putra, director of Conservation International (CI) Indonesia, said.
The men made good their escape after residents of Salyo and Selpele villages and sailors from the Navy base at Waisai captured 33 poachers in a separate incident on April 30.
Shark fins, dead sharks, manta rays and sea cucumbers valued at Rp 1.5 billion (US$163,000) were confiscated along with the poachers’ vessel, CI said.
Shark hunting was common in Raja Ampat before the practice was banned in 2005.
“The shark population has recovered but with the hunts, they are at risk again,” Ketut said.
Shark poachers cost Raja Ampat about Rp 165 billion in lost tourist income every year and damage the regency’s ecosystem, Ketut said.
“Sharks are predators at the top of the food chain. Disruptions to their population will harm the ecosystem.”
More sailors have been sent to Sayang Island to boost the detachment dispatched to Wayag Island on May 4.
However, Ketut said the government should further boost the officials on patrol.