Staff Reporter

Tuticorin: As many as 5,271 kg of organ pipe corals was seized from a container that arrived here from Indonesia, C. Rajan, Commissioner of Customs, said here on Thursday.

Customs officers attached to A.S. Shipping Container Freight Station and the officers of Special Intelligence and Investigation Branch, Tuticorin Custom House carried out checking operations on the container.

The goods declared in the bill were four varieties of sea shells and sea shell jewellery box. During inspection, the officers found the varieties of sea shells and sea shell jewellery boxes as declared in the container but the weight did not tally. In addition to the declared items, the officers found some goods kept concealed. On a closer examination these were found organ pipe corals.

According to the Tuticorin Marine Research Institute, the seized corals were called Tubipora musica, which could be found in shallow waters of the Red Sea, West Pacific Sea and Africa’s East Coast.

“The permanently coloured skeleton of Organ pipe corals makes an attractive material for ornaments and jewellery and is a popular species in the aquarium. The total weight of the seized organ pipe corals is ascertained to be 5, 271 kg. These items are covered under Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and also come under the Indian Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, which amounts to prohibition from importing,” Mr. Rajan said.

During inquiry it was revealed that the importer of the consignment, Gandhi of Gandhi Sea Shell Mart in Rameswaram, did not possess any valid permit to import organ pipe corals.

The case has been referred to the State wildlife authorities for taking action under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.