Police confiscate 7,000 live tropical fishes in Tawi-Tawi PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 06 August 2011 16:10

BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi — Acting on an information from the Bongao Municipal Police Station,  Sr. Supt. Rodelio B. Jocson, Tawi-Tawi Provincial Police Director rushed to the coastal vicinity of Sanga-Sanga to crack down on violators of the fishery law that led to the confiscation of five wooden hulled Palakaya boats loaded with some 7,000 commercial live tropical fishes.
The boats were equipped with dive compressors and oxygen tank.
The seized fishes consist of high price commercial species for aquarium  such as ribbon ell, blue tang (surgeon fish) , lion, clown fish, cleaner shrimp, stone, Frog, Angel Emperor, Panther and others.
Supt. Jocson said that a truckload of live tropical fishes placed inside plastic containers were supposed to be transported to Zamboanga City. The fishes command high price in the market if they were not intercepted by the police.
He said he was unable to arrest any boat crew as immediately they fled leaving their boats behind upon seeing the police coming to their direction.
Jocson ordered the confiscated boats, air compressors, oxygen tanks and other boat accessories to be turned over to Sr. Insp. Thomas Padinay Pantaleon, Jr., Bongao Municipal Chief of Police, for custody.

During the turn-over, he called on the Vice Governor Hja. Ruby Sahali to see all the confiscated items. She then led the release of the fishes to different marine sanctuary in Bongao, together with members of  the Tawi-Tawi Divers Club, WWF, PNP and other NGOs.

Jocson asked the groups to help him unload the tropical fishes from the boats to the sea. He warned  fisherfolks to stop engaging although lucrative in the collection of tropical fishes especially if they are using cyanide which destroys other marine organisms in the sea.

“We should not tolerate illegal fishing activities to rape our coastal fishery resources as this would provide livelihood opportunities for the local constituents and for the next generation,” he said.

In an interview, the local DENR Executive in Tawi-Tawi, PENRO Hji. Monel  Jonel said that taking of  marine and terrestrial species within our Philippine waters categorized as wildlife endangered resources is culpable violation of R.A. 9147 otherwise known as the “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act” which provides among others that “no person or entity shall be allowed possession of wildlife unless such person or entity can prove financial and technical capability and facility to maintain said wildlife; provided further that the source was not obtained in violation of this Act.” He further said that collection of threatened wildlife as determined and listed pursuant to this Act, including its by-products and derivatives shall be allowed only for scientific or breeding or propagation purposes in accordance with Section 6 of this Act. He further said that we need to protect and preserve wildlife species which are about to be imminent and dwindling in our coral reefs and oceans.

An advocate of environmental protection,  Engr. Rosendo R. Reyes who is concurrently the General Manager of Bongao Water District and Club President of the Tawi-Tawi Divers Club (TDC), said that as far as he knows, it was  also a violation of Bongao Municipal Ordinance No. 164, Series of 2006 that bans the use of air compressors for fishing within the municipal waters of Bongao.

Reyes said that under the law of nature, tropical fishes have  meaningful role to exist in coral reef as they are ingredients to provide balance growth to the marine ecological system.  They  also provide attraction to international and local divers that will redound to the development of tourism industry in the locality.
Sources said that tropical aquarium fishes end up in foreign countries like Taiwan, Hongkong and European countries.

Nur Harun, a former Director of the Fish Project in Tawi-Tawi, said that under the fishery law, live fish is banned for export except when it is sourced from Hatchery.
It was learned that Supt. Jocson, a scuba diver himself,  was in his dive wet suit supposedly to join a group of scuba divers from the Tawi-Tawi Divers Club spearheaded by Engr. Reyes, Prof. Felimon Romero, WWF Project Consultant, Dive Master Rash Sabal, Fishery Researcher Ramon Tangon and a number of visitors from GMA-7 for a Dive-Site Inspection Tour Visitation  at the marine fish sanctuary when the report on illegal gathering of tropical fishes in Sanga-Sanga came to his attention.

The GMA group came to Bongao make documentation on the fish sanctuary to be included in their TV program “Born to be Wild” hosted by Kiko Rustia who is a scuba diver.