Chinese Invasion-A A +A
My Palm Notes
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
THEY are coming from the water. Not with their battleships and amphibious vehicles but in their own physical bodies. That’s how powerful they are – the Chinese softshell turtles or Pelodiscus Sinensis.
A dispatch from colleague and old friend Perla Ortiz, regional information officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, raises an alarm over these creatures. Perla has gone a lot cuter with her press releases, prompting even national TV news networks to run stories on this one. Nice job.
So, you think our country has sovereignty problems with maritime issues at Scarborough Shoal and the Spratleys? Don’t go any further, we do have problems too here in Pampanga and other parts of Central Luzon.
The dispatch says the growing number of these “invasive species” of turtle “now threatens local fish population and other aquatic animals.”
They are being compared to the “golden kuhol” which plagued rice farms in Central Luzon in the 1980s. No less than the fishermen and fishpond owners from the towns of Arayat, Candaba, San Luis, Minalin, Macabebe and Apalit are considering the turtles as a threat.
Why would they not say so? That’s where Pampanga rakes in billions of pesos in its fish industry.
But fret not. The government seems to be working on something. The DENR is looking into this threat and fast growing menace. A task force has been formed to look into the animal’s distribution, feeding habits, and reproductive characteristics.
DENR’s Executive Director Maximo Dichoso in Central Luzon said his office received complaints from fishpond owners and operators about the turtle preying on local fish species, and bangus and tilapia fingerlings in fishponds.
“The Chinese softshell turtle has been classified as an invasive alien species (IAS) introduced in the country in the 90’s,” he explained, even as he warned the public about propagating or raising the animal as pet.
I don’t believe that sooner or later, the tilapias, prawns, bangus that we have on our dining tables will be replaced by the meat of these creatures. Even if someone tells me they are aphrodisiacs.
The DENR ordered a team of biologists and conservation experts to conduct a six-month study to determine the impact of the softshell turtle on the environment and the local fishing industry of the affected provinces, and to identify wildlife management interventions from the DENR.
“We want to determine the rate of reproduction of this turtle species and come up with a regional policy on the allowable quota for its collection either for food or export,” Dichoso explained, noting that some private individuals have expressed willingness to “harvest” the turtles for export.
He said strong market demand for turtle meat in China and other Asian countries will open a highly lucrative and viable business opportunity among wildlife collectors in the affected provinces.
But while the reptile poses a threat to local biodiversity, there is also a need to regulate its collection and trade to avoid unnecessary competition among individuals issued with Wildlife Special Use Permit, and to ensure a sustainable turtle population without affecting the local fish industry, he added.
In Pampanga alone, three individuals have been issued permits to collect a combined 36,820 heads of live turtles this year, or about 30,700 kilos of turtle meat. Last year, 349,170 heads of live turtles, or 236,250 kilos of turtle meat were also harvested.
He said the DENR welcomes information that would shed light on the range and behavior of the reptile and urged the public to contact the nearest DENR office if there are sightings of the animal or if nesting sites are found.
The Chinese softshell turtle, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), is found in several countries, including China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and Russia where it is considered a native “delicacy” and made into turtle soup. In Japan, turtle meat is stewed with noodles and served as a winter delicacy.
A long history of the turtle being used as food in most Asian countries where it was introduced made it difficult to determine the extent of the reptile’s native range, although it is known to inhabit brackish water, rivers, lakes, ponds, canals and creeks with slow currents.
AUF HAS DONE IT AGAIN! From one discipline to another, students and graduates at the Angeles University Foundation have been excelling and topping the licensure exams.
AUF registered the highest passing rate among all Physical Therapy schools in Central Luzon based on the results of the recently concluded PT board examination.
AUF earned a passing rate of 78.57% for first-timers in the February 2013 Physical Therapy Licensure Examination, according to the Professional Regulation Commission. AUF’s over-all passing was 68.75 percent versus the national passing of 49.22 percent.
The new physical therapists are Albano, Sergio; Decamora, Lawrence; Domingo, Herbert; Mallari, Thomas Joseph; Malong, Maria Theresa; Manalastas, Anne Russell; Meneses, Jennifer; Montoya, John Dominic; Paulo, Camila Jeannette; Sandico, Eric; and Umandal, Ralph Syron.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on February 13, 2013.