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Bantayan mayor traces vendors of shark meat

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva June 13,2015 - 01:21 AM

Coral Catsharks and baby Nurse Sharks are sold for P50 to P80 per kilo in the Bantayan town wet market in these photos taken by marine biologist Ma. May saludsod on June 3, 2015. A Cebu province ordinance bans the capture, killing and sale of all kinds of sharks.(CONTRIBUTED)

Nurse sharks are laid out for sale in the wet market of Bantayan town in north Cebu. The photos were taken by marine biologist Ma. May Saludsod last June 3, 2015 and uploaded on Facebook. (Facebook Photo)

Official holds off sanctions, says vendors ‘not aware’ of Cebu ban on killing  sharks

BANTAYAN Mayor Ian Christopher Escario yesterday said he located the vendors who were illegally selling shark meat in the public market.

He said he let them off with a warning that a second offense would not be tolerated.

The vendors didn’t know about the provincial ordinance banning the capture, killing or sale of sharks in the province, he said.

“Naluoy man lang ko kay wala man gyud sila kahibaw. Pero atong gipasabot nga dili na gyud mahimo ang pagdakop ug ang pagpamaligya og iho (I pitied them because they were really unaware. But we explained to them that the capture and sale of sharks is no longer allowed),” Escario said.

Photos of juvenile coral cat sharks and nurse sharks  laid out  in the Bantayan public wet market   were earlier posted on Facebook by a marine researcher, alerting ocean  conservationists.

The discovery  led  to a front page story in Cebu Daily News yesterday.

Escario said he sent two personnel to the market on Thursday  to verify the Cebu Daily News report.

“They saw baby sharks and took pictures,” the mayor told CDN over the telephone yesterday.

The mayor, who earlier said he, too,  was also unaware about the ban, said he intends to post copies of the Cebu province ordinance in the public market.

“I will also put up tarpaulins to inform the public,” he said.

Escario said only one or two stalls in the market sell sharks, depending on the volume of deliveries each day.

“I was told those sharks come from somewhere else. Suki-suki man lang daw na ilaha diha (They have regular customers),” he said.

He said he has tasked the market administrator to immediately report shark meat sightings in the area and for the police and local agriculture office to enforce the ban.

The photos of sharks stacked in a stall were uploaded on Facebook by a marine researcher who chanced upon the catch on June 3.  She said the meat was being sold at P50 to P80 a kilo.

The Cebu Provincial Board (PB) approved in 2012 the Local Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ordinance to prohibit catching, selling and trading of threatened or endangered species.

This was amended in 2014 to cover all species of sharks within municipal waters. Violators face a fine of P1,000 for every kilo of shark species caught, possessed, transported, sold or disposed.

Lawyer Chad Estella, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), said  ordinary citizens can make  a citizen’s arrest.

“The responsibility of enforcing this law doesn’t rely solely on the government,” he told CDN.

Estella said his office will investigate the latest incident.

Provincial Board Member Thadeo Ouano, who  chairs the PB committee on environment and natural resources, said the province still has a long way to go in educating the public on the significance of shark preservation.

“We need the commitment of the local government units and the likes of Mayor Escario to successfully implement the ordinance,” he said.

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TAGS: Bantayan Island, Cebu, Cebu Daily News, Cebu province, PB, PENRO, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, sharks, Thadeo Ouano

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