LOCAL authorities recently apprehended collectors of banned fishery products worth nearly P13 million in an operation in Barangay Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) served the two search warrants on June 30, 2021 to two individuals from Sitio Lupa, Barangay Punta Engaño.

The two were charged for violations of the following:

• Section 96 or the ban on coral exploitation and exportation

• Section 102 or fishing or taking of rare, threatened or endangered species that are both stipulated under Republic Act (RA) 10654 or "an Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing."

They were also found violating Section 27 of RA 9147 or The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act; and Section 2 of Fisheries Administrative Order 158 or the "Prohibition on the gathering, taking, collecting, selling, transporting, or possessing for sale of mollusks belonging to the genus Triton or Charonia and Cassis."

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) 7, through its Fisheries Resource Protection Group, assisted CIDG with barangay officials as witnesses.

The joint operation resulted in the confiscation of several banned fishery products found at the premises of the two arrested individuals:

• 3,213 pieces of helmet shell (budyong)

• three boxes containing 81 pieces of triton shell

• 384 pieces of giant clams (taklobo)

• 107 pieces of small-sized giant clams

• 52 kilograms of hoof shell (kukung kabayo)

• one box containing 42 pieces of shark jaw

• one box containing three pieces of dried sea turtle

• two sacks containing 33 pieces of organ pipe red coral

Based on the inventory, the estimated appraised market value of the confiscated fishery products is pegged at P12.96 million.

CIDG took custody of the two arrested persons and the seized items while inquest proceedings will ensue.

Bfar 7 Director Dr. Allan Poquita urged the public to refrain from catching or gathering the protected species since they play a significant role in marine life.

He asked the public to help Bfar 7 in curbing the illegal trade by reporting to authorities the people who collect species protected under the fishery laws, such as giant clams, helmet shells, and triton shells, among others. (PR)