A Kaohsiung-registered fishing boat was intercepted 30 nautical miles off Kaohsiung harbor on Tuesday and 1,149 protected turtles aboard the ship seized, coast guard officers reported.
The captain of the ship, identified by his surname Sun, together with one Taiwanese and two Indonesian crewmen were taken ashore for questioning by Coast Guard Administration officers.
They were later sent to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office to be interviewed over violations of the Wildlife Conservation Act and Smuggling Penalty Act.
Having received a tip off several months ago that Sun was planning to smuggle yellow-margined box turtles (食蛇龜), a protected species of turtle, to China, coast guard officers kept him under close observation.
Sun’s vessel left Kaohsiung Harbor on Tuesday morning and headed for mainland China at full speed. The protected turtles were found on board after Sun was intercepted by a coast guard ship.
The turtles were turned over to National Chung Hsing University.
Coast guard officers said demand for yellow-margined box turtles has grown in recent years as they have become an expensive and much sought after pet in China. Recognizing the profit to be made from such black market trade, illegal groups in Taiwan have begun smuggling turtles into that country.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel