Loophole closed in shark, seaweed ordinance

By: Peter L. Romanillos August 20,2014 - 09:34 AM

A LOOPHOLE in the Cebu province ordinance protecting sharks, seaweed and other marine life was addressed by the Provincial Board (PB) in amendments approved on second reading last Monday.

The time the scope of the 2012 ordinance was widenened to ban fishing, transporting, selling, possessing or disposing of “any shark species” unless one can present a special permit for “scientific and/or educational purposes.”

Brown algae, locally known as “samu” or “kwapo”, is gathered in coastal areas of Cebu as a raw product for fertilizers. Its harvest is banned in the province.

An amendment was made in Ordinance 2012-05 or the Provincial Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ordinance of Cebu to include among the illegal acts “the transshipment, shipment and transportation of brown algae seaweed from other localities outside Cebu province without legal documents.

This addressed the problem of law enforcers who would seize trucks loaded with “kwapo” from other provinces traveling through Cebu but were unable to file complaints before.

The ordinance is now more specific and strict about the ban on gathering “kwapo” and other seaweed species.

No longer is the prohibition for gathering seaweeed “before it is ready for harvest”. The ban applies to gathering, harvesting, selling and/ or exporting Brown Algae (Sargassum), Sargassum spp and seagress at any time within the territory of Cebu province.

An administrative fine of P3,000 per violator and an additional P1,000 fine per kilo of brown algae and seagrass will be imposed. An exception is made for a person or entity to present a special permit to gather the material for scientific or educational purposes.

PB Member Thadeo Ouano who moved for the amendments said the ordinance still lacks mechanisms for full enforcment such as a budget, an anti-illegal fishing task force and an adjudication board.

A sweeping provision was added to ban fishing, transporting, or selling “any shark species” unless one has a special permit for science or education purposes.

The first “Shark Summit” was hosted in Cebu City last week, where ocean advocates emphasized the need to eliminate the slaughter of sharks, which are hunted for their fins, meat and liver oil.

As “apex predators”, sharks play a key function in maintaining a balance in the fish populations in the world seas.

Ouano introduced an amendment to specify three species of Hammerhead Sharks which are classified in the “red list” of international conservationists.

The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna Lewini) and Squat-headed Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna Mokarran) were listed as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) just this year.

The Smooth Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna Zygaena) is considered ‘vulnerable’ to extinction in the same Red List.

Under the present ordinance, it is illegal to “hunt, catch, possess, transport, sell, buy, distribute, wound or kill” these marine animals.

Violators face a P5,000 fine or a maximum of l year in jail or both at the discretion of the court.
The current Fisheries Code specifies the protection only of Thresher Sharks, Whale Sharks or “butanding” or “tuki”, Giant Manta Rays (“sanga”) and Sun Fish (“Mola Mola” as vulnerable species of fish.

The ordinance prohibits the “fishing or taking, possessing, transporting, dealing or disposing of rare, threatened or endangered species” as determined by law, ordinance or government policy.

Related Stories:

Lucky Cebu has shark tourism all year round 

D’bantayan shark sanctuary mulled

Fate of sharks take centerstage in summit 


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