Public urged not to import exotic species-A A +A
Sunday, February 17, 2013
MANILA - Some exotic animals or plants threaten not only the survival of local wildlife, but also put human health at risk, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said, as he advised the public to refrain from importing these species.
Last week, reports said the aquaculture industry and biodiversity in Pampanga, Bulacan, and Bataan have been severely affected by the growing number of Chinese soft-shell turtles preying on bangus (milkfish) and tilapia fingerlings.
To mitigate the problem, Paje asked those who are planning to import exotic species to closely coordinate with the DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) in securing proper permits and complying with government quarantine measures.
The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act requires the registration of wildlife species, particularly those considered threatened and exotic, whether for recreation, conservation or propagation.
Under the law, aquarium owners are directed to surrender their exotic fish to the PAWB instead of throwing these into waterways where they could breed with or threaten local species.
Intentional introduction of exotic species for exotic use, such as agricultural or commercial uses, are also carefully assessed by the PAWB.
“There is often no harm intended when people import or buy them, but we also have to be aware of the possible consequences of growing or caring for them,” said Paje.
Aside from Chinese soft-shell turtles, PAWB has recorded 170 alien species of plants, animals and insects that caused damage to agriculture and local biodiversity. These include water lily, golden apple snail or golden kuhol, and janitor fish.
In January, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) started implementing ways in managing buyo-buyo in the Allah Valley Watershed Forest Reserve in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
The “highly aggressive” shrub has been found to be an invasive species leading to the degradation of natural forest. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)