WWF condemns ‘slaughter’ of whale shark off Batangas shores

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Posted by on February 17, 2010 at 09:37:51:

In Reply to: Divers find whale shark with fins, tail sliced off posted by on February 17, 2010 at 09:21:24:

An international group seeking the protection of endangered species condemned the attack on a whale shark (locally called the butanding) found off the shores of Tingloy Island in Batangas province last Monday.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the World Wildlife Fund voiced concern over the possible slaughter of the shark, whose fins were sliced off.

"WWF condemns the perpetrators of this illegal act. This is a real eye opener, for it proves that the slaughter of endangered species – even one as big as a butanding – can still take place if we let our guards down," said WWF Philippines Conservation Programs vice president Joel Palma.

Divers found the shark last Monday. It was later taken near the Caban Cove where volunteers from Bantay Dagat, a civilian fisheries patrol in the country’s coastal areas, tried to attend to the shark.

"Sadly, its wounds were too great – and the shark, nicknamed Tingloy Baby, died the next day (Tuesday)… and was laid to rest in Caban Cove," the World Wildlife Fund said.

The statement quoted Bantay Dagat members as saying that its members and local police recently found fishing vessels with strobe lights operating on Mabini town’s shores.

The fishermen were asked to leave, but they later transferred to Tingloy town. The incident prompted WWF and Bantay Dagat to allege that the fishermen could be the possible culprits of the incident.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director Malcolm Sarmiento also said the agency would investigate the possible slaughter of the whale shark.

In the Philippines, whale sharks have been hunted in the waters off Bohol, Misamis Oriental and Sorsogon, the WWF said.

"Shark fins and meat are usually exported to China, Hongkong and Taiwan. Whale shark flesh, called ‘Tofu meat’ sells for roughly $8 (P360) per kilogram, while dried shark fins are valued a hundred times more – approximately $800 (P36,000) per kilogram," it said.

Citing BFAR data, the WWF said about 200 whale sharks were slaughtered in 1997 alone, prompting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the BFAR to call for legal action to protect the whale shark.

Republic Act No. 8550 or the Fisheries Administrative Order prohibits the possession or slaughter of whale sharks. Violators are punished with four years in jail, a maximum fine of P10,000 and the cancellation of the violator’s fishing license. - RSJ, GMANews.TV

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