TWENTY baby sharks were allegedly sold in a wet market in Poblacion, Dalaguete last Sunday.
Yesterday, a stall holder was invited by the police officials of Dalaguete Police Station after he was seen selling shark meat, said Dalaguete Mayor Ronald Allan Cesante.
An ordinance says “it shall be unlawful to fish or take, possess, transport, deal in, sell or in any manner dispose of any shark species not mentioned in this ordinance or its body parts such as but not limited to fins, tails, jaws, bladder.”
Provincial Board Member Thadeo Ouano, author of the ordinance, said it does not apply to those granted with special permit for scientific or educational purposes and those given licenses or permits by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar).
Photos of juvenile sharks circulated in Facebook (FB) yesterday. The photos were shared in the FB account of Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines (MWWP).
The pictures were posted by Donna Langstrump in her FB account.
Based on the details provided by MWWP Director AA Yaptinchay, Langstrump was with her brother-in-law, Darwin Bawasanta, who took the photos at 1:30 p.m. in Dalaguete Public Market.
Langstrump was on her way to Negros when she passed by Dalaguete.
Based on their conversation with the vendor, Langstrump said fishermen caught these sharks using hooks.
Langstrump said she was not able to get the name of the vendor or the stall owner as well as the price of the sharks.
Since she was not able to find any figure of authority to report what she saw, she reported it to MWWP.
Yaptinchay said they do not know yet the sharks’ species but they belong to the family of “squalidae (Dogfish sharks).”
“Monitoring is crucial, so if BFAR can’t do it, anyone can take a picture and take it to social media. MWWP helps in the identification of the species and we also include it in our database for fisheries management recommendations. It also helps raise awareness on the threats to these species especially if picked up by media. Maybe our government will do something then,” he said.
As of 7 last night, the photos posted in MWWP got 111 likes and 64 shares.
In a separate interview, Mayor Cesante said a stall holder in Dalaguete Public Market named Alvis Cañete was invited by the police after he was seen selling shark meat.
Since investigation was ongoing, Cesante was not able to determine if Cañete was the one who sold the baby sharks.
A comment posted in Dalaguete’s official FB account addressed to MWWP said the municipal government is now conducting an investigation.
Mel Hontanosas, of the Provincial Anti-Illegal Fishing Task Force, said persons who sold and caught the sharks will face charges.
He said they will send a team to Dalaguete to verify the matter.
The task force will also conduct a public information and education drive on the ordinance.
Vince Cinches, an ocean campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said an ordinance implementation planning workshop will be held tomorrow and a declaration of the country’s first shark and ray sanctuary will be done on Friday at the Capitol.