Seized Zambo shells may be returned to sea

By: Peter L. Romanillos June 27,2014 - 09:20 AM

Capitol Chief Security Officer Loy Madrigal presents to local media the trumpet shell locally known as “tambuli” and a helmet shell or “budyong”. (CDN Photo/Peter L. Romanillos)

Thousands of endangered helmet and trumpet shells worth P2 million that were intercepted last Wednesday may still find their way back to the sea.

The “budyong” and “tambuli” shells can be returned to the sea to provide shelter to fish as part of man-made reefs, said Loy Madrigal, head of the Cebu Provincial Task Force on Anti-Illegal Fishing.

Madrigal said they have two options of disposing of the shells loaded inside a six-wheeler truck that was stopped at random at a highway checkpoint in Minglanilla town, southern Cebu.

The first option, he said, is to return the seashells to the sea to be used as artificial reefs.

He said they would cooperate with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-7) or with environment lawyer Tony Oposa on this.

“For now, we will keep it as part of evidence for the case. But once that is done, we will definitely return it to the sea as artificial reefs. But we have to consult with experts first,” he said.

“We can donate some of it to schools who might be interested in studying it such as those with courses on Marine Biology,” he added. The cargo came from Zamboanga City.

Under section 91 of The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, “confiscated corals shall either be returned to the sea or donated to schools and museums for educational or scientific purposes or disposed through other means.”

The same law bans the “fishing or taking of rare, threatened or endangered species”  as listed in the CITES or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Under the list,  helmet shells and triton or trumpet shells are listed as endangered species.

Madrigal said they will file charges against the truck driver, Romel Tumacas, his companion, Delfin Jakosalem and its alleged owner, Estanislao Pepito Sr. of Talisay City, for violating the Fisheries Code within the week.

Yesterday, Tumacas and Jakosalem was presented before the Cebu Provincial Prosecutors Office for inquest proceedings.

“We will file the charges tomorrow because it’s already too late,” Madrigal said.

Those found guilty of violating the code shall face imprisonment of 12 to 20 years, a fine of P120,000 and forfeiture of the catch, and the cancellation of fishing permit.

The team confiscated approximately 970  trumpet shells, 3,249  helmet shells and 25,615 smooth top shells from the truck that was bound for barangay San Roque in Talisay City.

Madrigal said the shells are usually exported to the United States or to Europe where each  piece could cost up to $5,000.

The shells are proessed as home decor  like lamps and other handicrafts, he said.Reports said the shells were on its way to a factory in Cebu for processing./  With Correspondents Victor Anthony V. Silva and Fe Marie Dumaboc


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TAGS: Cebu province, illegal, Minglanilla, shells, Zamboanga

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