Chinese shops caught in illegal beche-de-mer trade
By WILSON SAENI
FIVE Chinese shops in Auki were now forced to close down after being caught engaging in illegal beche-de-mer trades in Malaita.
The seizer was made as a result of a collaborative effort from the Malaita Provincial Fishery Office and Auki Police found those shops trading beche-de-mer illegally.
Malaita Provincial Government has ordered the shops to close-down, as investigations into the illegal beche-de-mer trade is currently underway.
Provincial Fisheries has signed a warrant with Auki police before they went together and confiscated 15 boxes of beche-de-mer and 5kg of shark-fins from different locations in Auki town.
According to the information obtained, the shops were the ones that were engaged in the trading of bech-de-mers during the open period last year.
When the government re-imposed the ban on the trade of bech-de-mer, the Chinese shop owners kept on engaging secretly in the act.
The practice continued until they were caught red-handed, Thursday last week.
According to a Police statement, the Chinese packed the beche-de-mer in cases, making it difficult for one to detect.
An officer who was part of the team that raided the shops said they acted quickly just before the Chinese smuggled the beche-de-mer consignment to Honiara.
Currently, it is illegal to harvest, buy, and to be in possession of beche-de-mer and shark-fin.
“What the Chinese businesses did clearly violates the current ban imposed by the national government,” an officer from the Malaita Provincial Fisheries Division said.
Meanwhile, one of the five shops engaging in the beche-de-mer was said to have owned by a local. However, information obtained by this paper claimed that a Chinese who operated a shop adjacent to the local man’s shop was using the local to operate his business.
The latest closure of the five shops has increased the number of Chinese shops closed by the current MARA government for doing business illegally in Auki to seven in total.