Reward up for whale shark's butchers
- Katherine Adraneda () - February 21, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government and an international conservation group have offered a P100,000 cash reward for information leading to the immediate arrest of supposed poachers responsible for the death of an 18-foot whale shark, or butanding, off Tingloy town in Batangas.

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) urged people who might have any information about the location of the poachers’ boat and the whale shark’s fins to send a text message to 0917-8834207.

“We enjoin the public to help us in efforts to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade to protect our natural heritage,” said Gregg Yan, information, education and communication officer of WWF-Philippines.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Horacio Ramos said its regional office and the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau are now investigating the “suspicious death” of the whale shark.

Tingloy Baby, as the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) was nicknamed, was “very weak” and fighting for its life when it was found floating belly up in the rough waters of Bahay Kambing, a sheltered cove in Tingloy town, last Feb. 15, based on the documentation of WWF-Philippines.

The group said the whale shark’s dorsal and pectoral fins were neatly sliced off, as knife marks were evident all over its tail.

The WWF has long spearheaded whale shark conservation in the Philippines, and together with the DENR and BFAR, successfully lobbied for their legal protection, which took effect in 1998.

Whale sharks are now classified as vulnerable and protected under Republic Act 8550 and Fisheries Administrative Order 193.

The possession or slaughter of a whale shark merits a maximum jail term of four years, coupled with a maximum fine of P10,000, and the cancellation of the offending party’s fishing license.

Whale sharks accidentally caught in fishing gear must be immediately released, while those that drifted ashore must be surrendered to the nearest BFAR office. Manta rays (Manta birostris) are also covered by the order.

BAHAY KAMBING BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES SECRETARY HORACIO RAMOS FISHERIES ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER GREGG YAN PROTECTED AREAS AND WILDLIFE BUREAU REPUBLIC ACT SHARK TINGLOY TINGLOY BABY WHALE
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