Daanbantayan town mayor irked by video of another shark sale in town’s public market

By: Marian Z. Codilla, Victor Anthony V. Silva June 11,2014 - 08:16 AM

A fish vendor in Daanbantayan’s public market holds a bamboo shark for sale in this photo taken on June 6 by a town resident and posted on Facebook.

A female vendor holds up a juvenile shark, offering it for P200 in the wet market of Daanbantayan town, north Cebu.

In the background, another female vendor walks by carrying a bamboo shark less than three feet long.

Smiling, she makes a side comment about her friend’s sale before placing her own shark in a bucket. Local customers gather around tiled market tables that display other varieties of Daanbantayan’s fish catch

An impromptu video of this market scene taken last Friday by a town resident prompted Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro to declare that he would ask the town council to pass an ordinance banning the capture and sale of all kinds of sharks.

“It’s high time for strict prohibition,” he told Cebu Daily News yesterday.

He said it would be better for a total ban to avoid confusion in enforcement since the local government has limited knowledge about the different shark species.

“Instead of classifying species, di na lang nako pahilabtan tanan sharks,” he said. (I’ll prohibit harming all kinds of sharks.)

There is no national law for shark protection, but a 2012 Cebu provincial ordinance makes it illegal to hunt or harm thresher sharks and whale sharks. Several Mactan resorts and high-end hotels in Cebu announced in May that they have decided to stop serving shark fin soup or shark meat in their restaurants to support a global campaign against the indiscriminate killing of sharks, one of the sea’s oldest predators.

Corro who was told about the shark sale video yesterday said it would be better if the individual who took it directly reported the incident to the municipal hall which is less than 300 meters from the market.

“I appeal to the people to show [me] whatever it is they see,” he said.
Corro said he immediately sent the town’s tourism officer to check the market.

“I assure the public that we will be vigilant about endangered species and curb illegal fishing,” said the mayor.

The 41-second video was taken by a Daanbantayan resident who was disturbed by what he saw and posted it on the Facebook wall of a friend on Monday.

“I went to the market to buy some fish and noticed them selling sharks,” said the witness, a government employee who works in Cebu City and goes home on the weekends.

“I read the newspaper article about banning that so I recorded it,” he told Cebu Daily News.
He asked to remain unnamed.

On a concrete post of the public market, a small poster warns against the sale of sharks, but it was already smudged and difficult to read.

The juvenile sharks in the video were identified as “bamboo sharks” after CDN referred the images to Alessandro Ponzo, a marine biologist and director of the Large Marine Vertebrates Project Philippines.

In the wet market, there were other fish varieties displayed on tiled tables – juvenile guitarfish, a spadefish, and blue spotted stingray and skates, according to Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Oceans Campaigner, who saw the video.

The buyers were local residents.

Provincial Ordinance No. 2012-05 or the Provincial Fisheries and Aquatic Ordinance of Cebu bans the capturing and sale of thresher sharks, mola-mola and manta rays.

A recent move by Cebu Provincial Board Member Thadeo Ouano seeks to amend this to include three species of hammerhead sharks found in Cebu.

Director Asis Perez of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said sharks are not usually the target of fishermen but are a “by-catch” or caught in the process of casting nets for commercial fish varieties.

However, instead of tossing it back to the sea, fishermen take the shark with them to the shore and sell it in the market.

“Wala tayong batas na nagbabawal sa pang huhuli ng shark. We have to understand that sharks are usually a by-catch,” Asis told CDN in a telephone interview.

Greenpeace and Save Philippine Seas led by “chief mermaid” Anna Oposa are advocacy groups pushing for a national legislation against shark trading in the Philippines.

As apex predators, sharks maintain the population balance in the sea, and are becoming vulnerable species in the ocean due to irresponsible fishing and “shark finning,” Cinches said.

Cebu Daily News reported last month that shark meat was being sold for P50 a kilo in Talisay city where the cheap meat is made into fish balls and street tempura.

But Cinches warned of the risk of high mercury content in shark.

Provincial Board Member Thadeo Ouano said more public education is needed about marine conservation.

It’s the job of the Anti-Illegal Fishing Task Force and BFAR to run after violators, he said.
He said the local government units should be at the forefront of the campaign against illegal fishing.

To reinforce the drive, Ouano said he plans to propose incentives to reward informants who help lead to the arrest of offenders.

Related Stories:

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BFAR tells Daanbantayan: Stop shark trade

Fisherfolk, expert say shark meat ends up as fish balls

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