BFAR-7 launches probe on thresher shark killings

By: Michelle Joy L. Padayhag June 21,2016 - 10:48 PM

THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-7) has started its investigation on the killing of thresher sharks in Moalboal following reports that two dead sharks, with their body parts mercilessly cut up, were found floating in the seas off the coast of the southwestern town.

BFAR-7 director Andres Bojos told Cebu Daily News that two quick response teams were immediately sent to Moalboal yesterday to check on what is widely considered to be blatant violations of a string of laws and ordinances banning the killing and selling of all species of sharks.

Last June 5, a Moalboal resident diver discovered the head of a thresher shark floating in the waters of Panagsama Beach, Barangay Basdiot. Ten days later on June 15, in Barangay Tongo, another dead thresher shark was found by a Japanese tourist.

It is believed that the sharks were killed by fishermen trying to eke out a living from the sale of sharks in the market.

Basdiot Barangay Captain Cirilo Tapales revealed that village officials are coordinating with BFAR-7 on the investigation.

“So far we have not identified who are the culprits in killing the sharks. I asked other fishermen in our barangay if they have identified that person but so far we don’t have his identity,” Tapales told CDN.

The village chief who received a photo of the dead shark found in his barangay expressed surprise over the killing of the thresher shark as officials, he said, had strongly campaigned for the existing Provincial Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ordinance of Cebu which bans the killing, harvest or sale of all species of sharks along with the indiscriminate removal of seaweed.

“There are signs in the market that remind vendors and fishermen not to catch and sell sharks,” Tapales said.

Verge Gamotan, the Moalboal resident diver who raised the alarm on the killing of thresher sharks in the town, met with Tapales yesterday.

“We recommended to put signs about the ordinance in public offices and have at least monthly updates and meetings with the fisherfolk group,” Gamotan told CDN.

Gamotan also suggested a reward system to encourage people to report violations on the killing and selling of sharks or stingrays.

The ordinance, authored by the late Cebu provincial board member Thadeo Ouano,  declared it unlawful to fish or take, possess, transport, deal in, sell or in any manner dispose of rare, threatened or endangered species.

It imposes a fine of P5,000 against the boat captain or the three highest boat officers including the owner/operator of the vessel and an additional P500 for every fisherman or worker who participates in the violation.

Each violator will also be charged P 1,000 for every kilo of fish or fishery species caught, taken, possessed, transported, dealt in, sold, or disposed in violation of the ordinance.

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TAGS: BFAR-7, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Cebu, Moalboal, shark, thresher shark

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