Asip Hasani, Tulungagung, East Java – Tulungagung Police in East Java arrested a fisherman for catching nine long-beaked common dolphins from the sea to be sold to a local fish trader.
The dolphin is included in the list of protected plants and animals in a 2018 environment and forestry ministerial regulation.
The suspect, identified as Sunar, 49, was apprehended at his home in Sine hamlet, Kalidawir district in Tulungagung on Friday.
A few hours earlier, investigators seized nine dead dolphins from a trader at a nearby fish market. Their fins had already been butchered.
"I didn't mean to catch dolphins. I found them dead, entangled in my fishing nets," Sunar told journalists during a press briefing at the Tulungagung Police headquarters on Saturday.
Tulungagung Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Eva Guna Pandia said the police had gathered sufficient evidence they believed indicated that the fisherman had intentionally hunted dolphins.
"Fishermen know where to catch dolphins or mackerel fish," he said. "If we only found one or two dolphins, we may have believed him. However, we found nine."
Eva said the police would investigate further to discover whether there was a black market of protected animals operating along the southern coast of Tulungagung.
The police also arrested Febri, a fish trader accused of buying the dolphins from Sunar. According to the police, Febri paid Rp 5,000 (32 US cents) per kilogram for the dolphins. Each dolphin weighed about 30 kg.
Febri is accused of selling the dolphins at a market on Sine Beach, about 30 kilometers south of Tulungagung.
A 1990 law on natural resources conservation law restricts all people from catching protected species. Anyone convicted of violating the law faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, as well as a fine of Rp 100 million. (kuk)