The Cebu Provincial Anti-Illegal Fishing Task Force confiscated 49 stingrays after a surprise inspection at a wet market in barangay Centro, Mandaue City yesterday.
Marcelo Go, task force head, said a pile of stingrays was displayed at the stall owned by Ely Hontilla at 2:45 a.m. yesterday.
“She’s been selling these for a long time already. We’ve warned vendors at the market about selling stingrays, but it seems some of them are just hard-headed,” Go told reporters yesterday.
The team seized 55 kilograms of stingrays worth P5,500 from Hontilla’s stall.
Some stingrays are in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species, although these are classified as data-deficient.
Cebu approved provincial ordinance 2015-21, penalizing the sale and transport of sharks and rays.
Go said it was their first market inspection since October. The biggest ray measured 16 inches wide and 18 inches long while the smallest measured nine inches by nine inches.
He said Hontilla will be fined P3,000 and P1,000 for each kilogram of confiscated ray while the seized fish will be buried.
But she will be allowed to continue selling other fish because she did not violate a national law, Go said.
A spot report on the incident showed that Hontilla claimed to have bought the rays in Pasil Market in Cebu City.
Public markets in Cebu province are required to put up tarpaulins in strategic areas so vendors and buyers are made aware of the existing provincial ordinance.
Since it was still dark when the operation was conducted, Go said he wasn’t able to see tarpaulins in the area.
However, he said there may have been banners since these are given to the market administrator for posting.
Mandaue market administrator Mussolini Suliva said they have been conducting since September last year an information campaign about the ban on the sale of endangered species.
“We keep reminding the vendors in the fish markets that it is illegal to sell stingrays. Violators will be fined,” he said in Cebuano.
He said his office was not aware of the surprise inspection by the task force yesterday.
“As long as the operation is legal, it’s not a problem. Surprise inspections are better,” he added.
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