Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WWF condemns killing of Whale Sharks in Batangas

February 15, Batangas – an 18-foot long Whale Shark was found floating belly up on the rough water of Bahay Kambing in Tingloy Batangas, the creature was found de-finned and fighting for its life. Sadly the Whale Shark dies the following day. According to the Casita Isabel resort owner Linda Reyes-Romualdez, the scuba divers Mabini’s Acacia Resort found the mutilated shark on the morning of Feb 15, and the shark was towed to nearby Caban cove and the Bantay Dagat volunteers tries to save the shark whom they called Tingloy Baby. The shark was found mutilated; its twin pairs of dorsal and pectoral fins were neatly sliced off – the soft, white flesh glistening in the morning rays. Knife-marks were evident all over its tail – mercifully too think to cut through. Ironically the incident happens few days after the third Convention on Migratory Species for Sharks last Feb 8-12 in Manila. Tingloy Baby was laid to rest in Caban cove.

(Divers inspect the ailing whale shark on the afternoon of 15 February.)

Malcolm Sarmiento, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director, will conduct a full investigation to find and prosecute the culprit. While the WWF-Philippines Conservation Programmes Vice-President Joel Palma condemns the illegal act and he says that it is an eye opener for everyone that it proves that the slaughter of endangered species such as Butanding or whale shark can happen and he calls on both private and public sectors to work together to refine and polish the current conservation mechanisms and to be strict on monitoring.

The challenges that face Mabini and Tingloy are founded on a persistent dissonance between the expectations of the private sector versus the capacity and interest of the public sector to deliver on those expectations. The years have proven that government cannot do this alone. The apparent lack of clear, self-triggering procedures stands in the way of improved cohesion. A sense of shared responsibility, though obvious with some, is not common to all. A much more participative public-private framework, with rigorous standards for accountability may provide the way forward. Unless we resolve the disjoint that exists between expectation and delivery, these problems will recur,” this was the message of WWF-Philippines Vice-chair and CEO Lory Tan where he is calling in all sectors to take their part on this responsibility and commitment on preserving the lives of the endangered species and conservation of the environment.

(A clearer view of Tingloy Baby, with its dorsal and pectoral fins thorn off. It died on the morning of the 16th.)

The whale sharks are mostly hunted by the butanding hunters and can be found in the waters of Bohol, Misamis Oriental and Sorsogon. There meat is popularly known as tofu meat and sold for $8 (P360) per kilogram and the dried sharks fin is approximately sold for $800 (P36,000) per kilogram. These products, the sharks fin and tofu meat is exported to countries like China, Hongkong and Taiwan. Based on BFAR reports there are approximately 200 whale sharks slaughtered as of 1997. Whale sharks are now classified by the IUCN as vulnerable and are protected by Philippine law under Republic Act 8550 and Fisheries Administrative Order 193. The law states that he possession or slaughter of a single whale shark merits a maximum jail term of four years, coupled with a maximum fine of P10,000 and the cancellation of the offending party’s fishing licenses. As Palma says “More poachers are out there – and they will not be at rest just because we are” he calls for immediate enforcement efforts from all sectors nationwide.

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1 comment: said...

Omg. I really love whalesharks. This is so disheartening. I'm really heartbroken by this.
Thanks for the post. :(

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