Malaysia: Twenty tonnes of giant clams seized from Vietnamese fishermen

stephanie lee The Star 14 Feb 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Dozens of giant clams weighing nearly 20 tonnes were seized from nine Vietnamese fishermen at the Mengalum Island near here on Monday.

The giant seized clams valued at about RM500, 000, is an endangered and protected marine species in Sabah were found on a boat operated by a Sabah and Vietnamese joint venture company.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said nine of the crew on board at that time of the arrest in the ongoing Ops Cantas Laut by marine police at about 10.30am on April 10.

He said although this was the first arrest and seizure of such nature, marine police believe the culprits have been harvesting giant clams illegally for quite some time.

“Police would also be investigating the boat company here, while the nine Vietnamese will be referred to the Land and Survey Department for further actions,” he said.

Hamza explained that the case was first referred to the Fisheries Department but was told that it was under the Land and Survey Department’s jurisdiction as ‘they were taken from the seabed, which is considered part of the land’.

Meanwhile, he said the shells, which could be used for cosmetic and decorative purposes were protected items and cannot be harvested or sold without a license from the relevant authorities.

“Many people might not know about this,” he said, adding that giant clams were very rare, as out of the less then 10 species in the world, seven were known to be found in Sabah.

Action will be taken against Vietnamese fishermen over giant clams
The Star 17 Apr 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s Lands and Surveys Department will be taking action against nine Vietnamese fishermen caught harvesting 20 tonnes of dead rare giant clams from the seabed around Pulau Mengalum, about 55km from here.

Apparently, the state Fisheries Department could not take action against the fishermen as the clams were dead.

The fishermen were arrested last Thursday by Sabah Marine Police about one nautical mile from Pulau Mengalum.

The haul of clams on the fishing trawler is estimated to be worth about RM500,000.

The fishermen, who work for a Sabah-Vietnam joint venture company based here, were initially handed to the state Fisheries Department, which then passed the case to the Lands and Surveys Department.

Sabah Lands and Surveys Department director Datuk Osman Jamal said investigations were being carried out under Section 168 of the Land Ordinance as the fishermen did not have a permit to extract clams from the area.

Also being investigated was whether the fishermen, aged between 20 and 40, were collecting the clams without the knowledge of their company.

It remains a puzzle why the Fisheries Department declined to take action in the first place.