Illegal import of corals from the Philippines seized in Singapore

Channel NewsAsia 3 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE: An illegal consignment of corals from the Philippines has been seized from an importer's premises, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) in a joint news release on Monday (Apr 3).

AVA officers seized 75 hard corals and five soft corals on Mar 30 that were wrapped in plastic bags lined with paper and concealed in ceramic mugs. They had been declared as "plastic aquarium ornaments".

Singapore is a signatory of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), under which hard corals are a protected species. CITES permits are required for any import, export and re-export of protected species, including their parts and products.

While soft corals are not protected by CITES, the authorities said they were also seized as they had been falsely declared and were bundled together with the illegal shipment of hard corals.

AVA and ICA said they acted on a tip-off and worked with a logistics company to follow up on the consignment from the Philippines. It led them to the importer’s premises where the corals were eventually seized.

The corals are now under the care of Resorts World Sentosa, while the importer is assisting AVA with investigations.

"Under Singapore's Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, offenders can be fined up to S$50,000 per scheduled species (not exceeding a maximum aggregate of S$500,000) and/or up to two years imprisonment upon conviction," said AVA, adding that it will continue to work with partner local and international enforcement agencies to curb wildlife trafficking.

The authorities also reminded travellers against bringing live animals, birds and insects into Singapore without a proper permit.

- CNA/xk


ICA, AVA seize illegally imported coral reefs
Today Online 3 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE — A haul of 75 hard corals and five soft corals that were illegally imported into Singapore from the Philippines have been seized by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

The marine invertebrates were falsely declared by the importer as "plastic aquarium ornaments", the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a joint statement with AVA on Monday (April 3).

Following a tip-off, ICA and AVA officers worked with a logistics company to locate the illegal shipment at an importer's premises.

The corals are now under the care of the Resorts World Sentosa, while the case is being investigated, both agencies added.

Hard corals are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), of which Singapore is a signatory.

Both agencies noted that while soft corals are not protected by CITES, they were also confiscated as they were falsely declared as "plastic aquarium ornaments", and were bundled together with the illegal shipment of hard corals.

Offenders who trade in endangered species may be liable to a fine of S$50,000 for each protected species (not exceeding a maximum aggregate of S$500,000), and/or jailed up to two years.

Investigations against the importer are ongoing.


Illegally imported corals declared as 'plastic aquarium ornaments' seized
AsiaOne 3 Apr 17;

Some 80 corals that had been illegally imported into Singapore has been seized, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a joint statement on Monday (April 3).

They had been imported from the Philippines, and were falsely declared as "plastic aquarium ornaments".

The corals, which included 75 hard corals and five soft corals, were picked up at the importers premises, where they had been wrapped in plastic bags lined with paper, and conceals in ceramic mugs.

They are now under the care of Resorts World Sentosa while the case is investigated.

According to AVA, hard corals are a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which Singapore is a signatory. Therefore, CITES permits are required for the import, export or re-export of CITES species, including their parts and products.

Under the Republic's Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, offenders can be fined up to $50,000 per scheduled species (not exceeding a maximum aggregate of $500,000). They may also be jailed for up to two years.

Meanwhile, although soft corals are not protected under CITES, they were seized together as they had been falsely declared.

Both agencies stressed that the Government adopts a zero-tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species.

ICA said that it would continue to conduct checks on cargo, passengers and vehicles at the Republic's checkpoints, while AVA said that it would continue its efforts to partner local and international enforcement agencies to curb wildlife trafficking.

The authorities also reminded travellers against brining live animals, birds and insects into Singapore without a proper permit.

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