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PCG probes shark fin smuggling

Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Zamboanga is investigating the shipper and consignee of four sacks of dried shark fins that were recently discovered on a cargo ship as it passed through the Zamboanga port.

PCG Zamboanga station head Lt. Jomark Angue said the shipper was identified as Dennis Atillo while the consignee is Richard Jose from Manila. He said it is possible the names are fictitious.

The five-ton dried shark fins, estimated to be worth P400,000, were seized for violation of the law that bans the catching, sale, purchase, importation and exportation of sharks and rays.

The cargo was mis-declared as assorted items.

“When we confiscated them the sacks were sealed so the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is determining from what species of shark were the fins taken,” said Angue.

The 5,404 gross ton M/V Span Asia 1 left Dadiangas, General Santos City on July 24 and passed by Cotatabo and Zamboanga. Manila was its final destination.

“When the ship arrived in Zamboanga last July 28 our Vessel Safety Enforcement Inspection Team made the routine inspection and saw the four big sacks. We became curious of its contents so we peeked inside the sack and saw the dried shark fins,” Angue said.

When asked how the contraband eluded PCG personnel in General Santos City and Cotabato, Angue said it was possible the sacks were buried under the other cargoes, and it was only when the other cargoes were unloaded in Zamboanga City that the sacks became visible.

Shark fin soup is a highly priced and much sought after Chinese delicacy.

Angue said it was not the first time they seized smuggled shark fins, but previous hauls only involve not more than 10 pieces that were mixed with other dried fish.

He said the BFR is also checking if M/V Span Asia 1, which is owned and operated by Philippine Span Asia Corp., is in cahoots with smugglers.

ANGUE BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES COTATABO AND ZAMBOANGA DENNIS ATILLO GENERAL SANTOS CITY GENERAL SANTOS CITY AND COTABATO JOMARK ANGUE PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD PHILIPPINE SPAN ASIA CORP V SPAN ASIA ZAMBOANGA
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