Why Singapore Accepts Contraband Lobster Seeds?

Singapore Accepts Contraband

The smuggling of clear lobster seeds (BBL) continues to occur in the border areas of Batam and Singapore. Recently, the Batam Customs Main Service Office (KPU) secured a bag containing more than 40,000 BBLs that were to be smuggled to Singapore, early July 2023.

Customs officials discovered the smuggling when the perpetrator was going to Singapore by ferry at Nongsa Pura International Port, Batam City. At that time the officer suspected a large black bag on the x-ray. During the inspection, it turned out that in the bag there were 44 small bags filled with lobster seeds.

“Passengers carrying bags are being chased, when it is suspected that the perpetrators fled,” said Head of Batam Customs Enforcement and Investigation, Sisprian Subiaksono, early July 2023.

The inspection results of the Batam Customs and Excise contained 64 bags in the bag, in which there were 3,247 pearl lobster seeds ( Panulirus ornatus ), 46,216 sand lobster seeds ( Panulirus homarus ). 

Sisprian said that after a preliminary calculation was carried out, it was estimated that the total value of the lobster seeds smuggled reached IDR 5.55 billion. Meanwhile, the origin of the lobster seeds is unknown.

After the arrests were made, Batam Customs together with Batam Fisheries Quarantine, Batam Marine and Fisheries Resources Supervision Base (PSDKP) immediately released tens of thousands of lobster seeds in the waters of Ngual Island, Galang Baru, Batam City.

“This wild release is to keep the lobster seeds alive. This location was chosen because of the consideration that the waters are not polluted and the environment is safe for the preservation of lobster seeds,” he said after releasing them. This alleged act of smuggling violates Law No. 21/2019 concerning Animal, Fish and Plant Quarantine.

KKP Asked to Collaborate with the Singapore Food Authority

Lobster seed smuggling often occurs in Batam and Singapore waters. The mode is not only by land, but also by sea transportation.

The city of Batam is only used as a transit point for smuggling before being sent to Singapore. Most baby lobsters come from other Sumatran regions, such as Palembang and Jambi. In Mongabay Indonesia’s previous writings , Singapore was also used as a transit country, to be sent to Vietnam.

This mode of smuggling at sea is a problem for law enforcement in Indonesia. The process of pursuing the smuggling perpetrators’ ship was hampered when the perpetrators fled into Singapore waters. In this article , Singapore is said to be suspected of openly receiving these illegal lobster seeds.

“This is the mode often used by BBL smugglers, they try to escape from the (Indonesian) authorities by fleeing to the border areas of Singapore waters,” said Adin Nurawaluddin.

The lobster seeds that Singapore received officially took place and that was also commented on by former Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti when she took office. “The Singapore government should not be allowed to allow these living things in. How can the Singapore quarantine center allow these (lobster) seeds to enter without a health certificate, I cannot fully understand,” Susi said as quoted by Kompas.id .

Head of Batam Customs Enforcement and Investigation, Sisprian Subiaksono said, his party continues to make diplomatic efforts to ask Singapore not to receive lobster seeds illegally smuggled from Indonesia. “We will continue to take diplomatic steps. We have spoken with Singapore, now it is still legal, so they cannot enforce it at sea,” said Sisprian.

Likewise, the diplomatic steps taken by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) by cooperating with the Singapore Police Coast Guard (SPCG) in preventing the smuggling of lobster seeds, especially from Indonesia to Singapore.

Adin explained that the implementation of this hot pursuit was important considering that so far it has always been an obstacle in efforts to handle BBL smuggling in the border areas of the two countries. 

In response, Daniel Seah, Deputy Commander of Singapore Police Coast Guard, stated that the Singapore Coast Guard is prepared to collaborate with the Directorate General of PSDKP KKP to tighten monitoring of unlawful BBL imports from Indonesia to Singapore as the border authority.

However, the Singapore Coast Guard proposed that the MMAF could initiate an agreement with the Singapore Food Authority to issue regulations regarding the obligation to submit documents or licensing certificates for every fishery commodity that enters Singapore.

Through this arrangement, the Singapore Coast Guard will have the power to take enforcement action against Indonesian BBL imports that are illegal and do not come with the necessary paperwork or certificates.

In the future, ships that don’t have documentation or fabricate them won’t be allowed to enter Singaporean seas, and PSDKP can make arrests right away, according to Daniel Seah in a KKP press statement.

Executive Director of the Center for Maritime Studies Abdul Halim emphasized that BBL is clearly prohibited from being exported in the KP Regulations. According to him, Singapore cannot accept BBL smuggled from various regions in Indonesia. “The rules don’t allow it, how can it be claimed legally (in Singapore),” Abdul told Mongabay Indonesia, Wednesday, August 9, 2023.

He emphasized that the KP Ministerial Decree regarding the export ban actually applies at two levels. First, at the domestic level, smuggling violates the KP Ministerial Regulation. Meanwhile, at the international level, based on UNCLOS, the perpetrators of the smuggling must still be pursued and arrested. “Through the implementation of hot pursuit or pursuit of perpetrators of crimes at sea that are included in UNCLOS,” he said.

Halim also highlighted the weak waters control on the border of Singapore and Batam which led to the smuggling of BBL. He said, there must be an increase in the budget and capacity of MCS ( monitoring, control and surveillance ) in the management of national fisheries.

“Not least to anticipate the smuggling of BBL, it is absolutely necessary, including increasing coordination of reporting and law enforcement from the community or Pokmaswas,” he said.

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