THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Central Visayas is set to investigate an incident in Moalboal town wherein a pawikan or sea turtle was found dead on the town’s shores earlier this week.
Dr. Eddie Llamedo, DENR-Central Visayas public information officer, told SunStar Cebu that they have tasked the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS) to investigate who the culprits are behind the killing of the turtle in Barangay Basdiot, Moalboal.
On his Facebook page, Kalle Epp, a netizen, claimed they found a dead green sea turtle in a coral reef in Sitio Tongo, Barangay Basdiot earlier this week.
A spear gun wound was found on the dead turtle’s neck.
“We are outraged! Since several weeks we have seen an increase in people, local and foreign, coming to Moalboal for spear gun hunting as a sport and reported this to authorities,” Epp said, in his post.
Epp has appealed to officials to investigate the illegal poaching activities in Moalboal.
Cirilo Tapales, Barangay Basdiot chief, told SunStar Cebu that the dead pawikan has been turned over to the town’s tourist police.
Tapales believes that fishermen from other barangays may have speared the turtle at night to avoid detection.
Tapales said spear hunting is illegal in Moalboal.
Llamedo said hunting sea turtles especially within marine protected areas like the Tañon Strait is illegal, according to Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act.
A fisherman caught violating RA 9147 could spend jail time of up to 10 years or pay a fine of P500,000 for each sea turtle that he or she kills.
Llamedo also reminded the municipal government of Moalboal to boost up its monitoring activities on their coastal waters to avoid such incidents.
Sea turtles are considered critically endangered under the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
“The presence of a pawikan is a sign of having a healthy marine ecosystem and we need people and fishers who take care of them while they travel for forage or nourishment,” Llamedo added. (JKV)