D’bantayan fishers ‘not aware shark trade is bad’

By: Peter L. Romanillos June 12,2014 - 08:32 AM

Sharks for sale: Hammerheads, thresher sharks hunted in Daanbantayan (File Photo)

DAANBANTAYAN Vice Mayor Gilbert Arrabis Jr. yesterday said most fisherfolk in his town don’t see anything wrong in catching and selling sharks – until now.

Education is needed because they are clueless that these sea creatures are vulnerable or even endangered species.

A number of fishermen approached him after Daanbantayan was in the limelight in April with news reports about sharks being sold in the public market. They asked him what to do with sharks that get entangled in their fishing nets.

“Set them free,” he told them.

Arabis, who heads the municipal council, said he supports Mayor Corro’s plan to pass a municipal ordinance banning the shark trade.

“First we will review the ordinances that concern marine creatures. Maybe we can amend it or we can craft a new one,” he said.

Arrabis said local fishermen don’t hunt for sharks but some sharks get entangled in their nets as “bycatch” when they cast for other fish varieties.

The fishermen, who are pressed with money, then sell the sharks along with their other marine catch to any takers.

Arrabis said he asked the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-7) to hold a seminar about the protection and preservation of sharks for fisherfolk and vendors’ groups.

After Cebu Daily News ran the story “SHARK FOR SALE” in its front page in April issue with a photo of a juvenile hammerhead shark displayed in the Daanbantayan public wet market, local fishermen started asking the vice mayor what was wrong with the activity.

“They really did not know what to do with it so they bring it along with the catch. So I told them, return it to water once you catch one again,” he said.

After the CDN story came out, Arrabis said he immediately sponsored a resolution calling for an investigation of the sale. At his request, warning posters were put up in the market by the muncipal environment officers.

He said authorities failed to trace the vendor, a certain “Corazon” adding that “e can’t apprehend them because we have no ordinance banning the selling of sharks.”

Mayor Augusto Corro said he would push for a municipal ordinanc banning the sale of all kinds of sharks after another photo and video circulated last Friday of vendors in Daanbantayan public market selling a live juvenile bamboo shark for P200.

The Philippines has no national law protecting sharks but Cebu province has an ordinance baning the hunting, capture, killing or sale of four marine species – the thresher shark, whale shark, giant manta ray and sun fish. An amendment is being proposed to include hammerhead sharks, of which three species were recently declared endangered species by international conservation groups.

Mayor Corro said local officials had little expertise to distinguish which species of shark is endangered or not, so it was better to cover all kinds.

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