Van carrying 1,650 kilos of frozen shark meat stopped

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Thursday, June 19, 2014


THE Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LLCPO) intercepted a vehicle loaded with assorted shark meat in Sitio Fire Crash, Barangay Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City yesterday afternoon.

Supt. Virgil Ranes, head of the LLCPO Task Force Kalikasan, said they seized 1,650 kilos of frozen shark meat from a blue Bongo Mazda vehicle driven by Frederico Cañete, 48, a resident of Pasil, Cebu City, past 5 p.m.

Orlando Leyson, chair of the City Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said the meat came from at least three kinds of shark, including thresher shark and whale shark, locally known as “butanding.”

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Owner unknown

Both species, he said, are considered endangered. Leyson said samples of confiscated meat will be sent to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to identify the kinds of shark slaughtered.

Cañete told the police he was delivering the products from Marigondon to Pasil.

The driver, Ranes said, has yet to disclose who owns the products and who these were meant for.

Ranes said the shark meat might be processed as ingredients for fishball, tempura, and other food products.

Cañete failed to present a permit to transport the products and a business permit, Ranes said. What the police got from him was a document indicating the quantity of the products being delivered.

“We received a tip about the transportation of shark meat from Lapu-Lapu days ago. We did surveillance,” he said.

Ranes said Cañete, who was detained, may be charged with violating Republic Act (RA) 8550, or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines.

Denial

The confiscated products were taken to the LLCPO.

Last June 11, the Cebu Provincial Anti-Illegal Fishing Task Force confiscated 170 packs or 15 boxes of thresher shark meat after intercepting a truck in Naga City.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources said thresher sharks are considered vulnerable species because of their declining population.

In a related development, provincial task force head Loy Madrigal met with officials from two seafood processing, who signified their commitment not to use shark meat in making fishball and tempura.

Victor Dionson, maintenance officer of Sea Master Food Products, and Kim Don, manager of Sea World, told reporters they use barla or tuna in the products.

Dionson’s company supplies fishball to the local market while Don supplies both the local and foreign markets.

Madrigal said local manufacturers are lured into using shark meat because it is white and it has a smooth texture. It’s also cheap at P50 per kilo, he said.

Protecting seahorse

Madrigal also met with Project Seahorse volunteers and coordinator, who is seeking Capitol’s support in protecting the endangered fish.

Catching seahorse also violates RA 8550.

Dried seahorse sells for P15,000 per kilo in the local market. It can fetch up to P40,000 per kilo in Hong Kong.

Last week, while conducting sea patrol off the coast of Madridejos, Madrigal intercepted a trawl fishing vessel.

During inspection, he chanced upon dried seahorses hanging in the ship’s lobby.

He confiscated the seahorses and filed charges against ship’s crew for fishing on municipal waters.

Madrigal assured Project Seahorse coordinator Chai Apale that the Province supports the protection of endangered marine creatures.

Provincial Agriculture Chief Roldan Sarajena invited Apale to be the spokesperson in his regular meetings with agriculture officers in different towns to help monitor the catching of seahorses.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 20, 2014.

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