Smuggled tropical fishes intercepted-A A +A
By Bong Garcia
Saturday, August 6, 2011
TAWI-TAWI Governor Sadikul Sahali has ordered a tightened watch against smuggling of tropical fishes in the southern most province of the country.
Tawi-Tawi police intercepted and confiscated last week more than 13,000 live tropical fishes on two occasions at the port of Sanga-Sanga.
Tawi-Tawi Police Director Rodelio Jocson said Sahali has instructed the local government units (LGUs) of Tawi-Tawi's 11 towns to closely work with their respective police forces to keep close watch against compressor-diving fishermen who supplies live tropical fishes to smugglers.
The move is aimed to protect the marine resources of the province, Jocson said.
Jocson disclosed that among the tropical fishes they intercepted and confiscated include ribbon eel, clown fish, blue tang or the surgeon fish, cleaner shrimp, Angel emperor including baby sharks.
However, Jocson disclosed no one among the people responsible in the illegal gathering of the tropical fishes was arrested since they have fled “upon sensing our presence.”
Jocson said they have also confiscated five wooden-hulled “Palakayas” boats, air compressors, and oxygen tanks which are being used in compressor-dive fishing.
The confiscated tropical fishes were already packed on plastic bags placed inside styropor boxes and ready for shipment to Zamboanga City, Jocson said.
He said the tropical fishes are being shipped to other parts of the country and eventually abroad via Zamboanga City citing some of the confiscated tropical fish species command high prices in other countries.
Jocson believed that a syndicate exists behind the smuggling of the tropical fish species since they rake in huge amount of money.
“Some of the species we confiscated are being sold to as much as $150 each aboard,” he said in a phone interview.
Based on information they gathered, Jocson said the catchers of tropical fishes are being paid only at P2 each.
He said the taking of marine and terrestrial species within the Philippine water categorized as wildlife endangered resources is a violation of Republic Act 9147 otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
He said Sahali wanted the smuggling of tropical fishes stopped since its gathering and collection, if left unabated, will affect the livelihood of the fishermen.
He said the tropical fishes serve as “guards” of eggs of edible fishes and corrals against parasites.
The production cycle of edible fishes will be cut off since the eggs will not be hatched if there will be no more tropical fishes thereby affecting the livelihood of the fishermen, Jocson said.