Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA) - Bima City police officers are currently tracing a network of smugglers of hundreds of coral reefs revealed during a police raid activity on the public highway in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).

Head of the Criminal Investigation Unit (Satreskrim) of the Bima City Police First Inspector M. Rayendra said his side was investigating the matter by examining a truck driver, who was caught transporting hundreds of coral reefs without a valid permit.

"We are still interrogating the driver to trace this network of coral reef smugglers," he noted in a written statement received here Friday.

Rayendra made assurance that the examination conducted for the truck driver, with the license plate number of the vehicle from Jakarta, was solely for the purpose of gathering information.

"The driver only works for a shipping company by carrying a transport permit but not for the coral reefs," he stated.

Rayendra explained that the truck was found to be transporting hundreds of coral reefs on January 19 when it was crossing the public highway in the Oimbo area, East Rasanae Sub-district, Bima City.

From the inspection conducted at the location, the police found hundreds of coral reefs in 19 boxes with brown duct tape that read "Bali."

The coral reefs packed in plastic filled with water and oxygen were stored neatly in a box at the back of the truck.

Following up on these findings, the police have coordinated with the regional Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA).

On Thursday afternoon, the police, along with the BKSDA, released the coral reefs back to their original habitat in the area of Bima waters.

"We immediately released the coral reefs because the availability of oxygen in plastic packaging is limited," Rayendra noted.

Furthermore, he stated that tracing the network of coral reef smugglers is part of the police's efforts to support the government's endeavors to protect marine habitats that are categorized as endangered.

This is also in accordance with data from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Flora and Fauna (CITES) that includes coral reefs in the list.

To this end, the Directorate General of Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has issued regulations on the use or cultivation of these coral reefs by limiting quotas and permits for capture and circulation.

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Translator: Dhimas Budi P, Resinta S
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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