“Stop shark poaching in Cebu”
(The Freeman) - October 5, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - A local marine conservationist hopes that the recent poaching of several thresher sharks in the waters off northern Cebu would be the last.

The protection of thresher sharks, including silky sharks and mobula rays, has gained ground in the global community after parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora voted in favor of listing these species in Appendix II.

“Some sharks and rays are migratory, which means their management is not only a local issue, but a global concern,” said Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace.

But he hurled a challenge to the concerned government agencies on marine protection and conservation to optimize their resources and operations heeding the recent decision.

He stressed that the recent development would mean that these species are protected automatically on account of Republic Act 10654 or the 2015 enacted law that amends RA 8550, otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

Under Section 2 of RA 10654, "the Philippines shall pursue its commitment to international conventions and cooperate with other states and international bodies, in order to conserve and manage threatened, aquatic species, straddling and highly migratory fish stocks and other living marine resources."

But Cinches was rather confident with the present administration that gave a “yes” vote, compared to the previous one that turned down the proposal to have these species listed under CITES.

Species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need. Appendix 2 includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.

The Philippine delegation composed of government agencies and non-government organizations, among others, attended the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties that is being held in Johannesburg, South Africa since September 24 until today, October 5.

Though he did not join the delegates, Cinches shared the same joy with the nation in taking a “historical step forward in safeguarding these species from overexploitation, preventing further decline and allowing populations to recover.”

“The Philippines now needs to step up its enforcement program, ensuring that incidents like the killing of thresher sharks in Cebu last September 21 never happen again, by also pushing for a national policy to protect all shark species in the Philippines,” he said.

He said the Cebu provincial government is now leading in the campaign with its existing ordinance that bans the catching and trading of all species of sharks and rays.

Shimura

Meanwhile, Provincial Board Sun Shimura welcomed the inclusion of thresher sharks in CITES.

“Very good news for our town since we are promoting tourism and scuba diving in our town. But angay jud mo-participate ang society, especially ang fisherfolks nato sa Daanbantayan and our neighboring towns,” he said.

Gary Cases of Project Sharklink based in Malapascua Island in Daanbantayan also lauded the success of the collective effort.

Cases said a coalition of NGOs formed Save Sharks Network to further escalate the campaign and culminating in South Africa. Project Sharklink is a member of Save Sharks Network.

He said that Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project, Project Sharklink and Save Philippine Seas have worked together in Malapascua Island. SPS is based in Manila but works in Malapascua.

Cases added that the recent development could spur economic activities in Daanbantayan.

Shimura, who was mayor of Daanbantayan from 2007 to 2010, sponsored a resolution which was approved in the PB appealing to the Philippine Delegation and governments attending the 17th Conference of Parties of CITES to vote in favor of listing all three species of thresher sharks in Appendix II. (FREEMAN)

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