By TEDDY KAFO
THE stocks of seized bêche-de-mer confiscated from three Chinese business houses in Honiara last week have become a matter of controversy.
Acting Permanent Secretary of Fisheries Ferral Lasi in an interview this week confirmed that after meeting with the police, they have agreed to return the bags of dried bêche-de-mer to the Chinese who were awarded licences to export the lucrative marine commodity.
“Due to lack of space at the Central Police compound, the police and our ministry agreed that they be driven and dropped off at the establishments they were hauled from,” Mr Lasi said.
“A warrant should be issued today for the safe return of the bêche-de-mer bags to their storage houses,” he added.
“Police will put tags on the bags to identify its ownership originality whilst their work on the court papers continues,” he said.
But sources within the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force yesterday said they have received orders from Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for all the bags of dried bêche-de-mer to be stored at the Central Police Station compound whilst investigation into their illegal harvesting continues.
“The DPP issued a notice that all the bêche-de-mer bags will be stored away for safe keeping while the investigation and a court case continue.
“It is up to the court now.”
The police source also added that they will store the bêche-de-mer in a container to provide more space.
“A container will be provided to store the batch of confiscated marine commodities.
“There is also limited space at the police station so an additional storage container will be the best option for storage,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Ontong Java medical doctor and entrepreneur Reginald Aipia confirmed to Solomon Star that he is the one who filed a case against the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the Chinese buyers and some of the chiefs involved in the illegal harvest.
“I’ve reported the illegal harvest a month before the ban was lifted but the ministry ignored it.
“So am taking them to court and will not back down until justice prevails,” Dr Aipia.
Attempts to talk with the DPP office were unsuccessful.
Controversy surrounds seized bêche-de-mer
By TEDDY KAFO