AN INDONESIAN boat captain was jailed for five months and fined $20,000 yesterday for transporting more than 2,000 endangered turtles without a valid export permit.
Sustrisno Alkaf, 58, is the first person to be prosecuted for transhipment of scheduled species here since the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act was amended in March.
One of the main amendments enables enforcement action to be taken against illegal transhipments through Singapore of wildlife species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
Penalties have also been raised from $5,000 to $50,000 for each scheduled species, up to a limit of $500,000, or a jail term of up to two years.
Sustrisno was arrested at the Jurong Fishing Port on Tuesday with 72 crates containing 2,520 live South Asian Box turtles, which he was shipping from Sumatra to Batam without a valid Cites export permit.
Of the 5,420 soft shell turtles found on board, 2,520 were found to be Cites-protected.
He had stopped in Singapore to unload 2,900 non-scheduled species of soft shell turtles to three importers. The 2,520 illegal South Asian Box turtles, worth about $10,000, were destined for Hong Kong.
Pressing for a deterrent sentence, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority prosecutor Yap Teck Chuan said this illegal trade was hard to detect and damaging to Singapore. In meting out the sentence, District Judge Danielle Yeow took into account the large number of turtles Sustrisno had.
He will spend an extra two months in jail as he is unable to pay the fine.
Arrangements are being made with the Indonesian authorities to return the turtles either today or tomorrow. As of yesterday, more than 30 have died.