Philippines: Cash reward dangled for info on Turtle killer
By Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon & Le Phyllis F. Antojado, 2nd December 2017;
A P50,000 cash reward has been dangled by Moalboal Mayor Inocentes Cabaron for anyone who can give information on the whereabouts of the individual who killed an endangered Green Sea Turtle.
“We are offering P50,000 to any person who could give the information leading to the identification and arrest of the person or persons involved,” Cabaron said in a text message to Capitol reporters.
The Turtle’s dead body was found on the shores of Barangay Basdiot in Moalboal town, southern Cebu Wednesday morning. A spear gun, a fishing gear banned in the town, wound was found on the dead Turtle’s neck.
The dead Turtle was turned over to the Provincial Environmental and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) for further investigation. It measured 60 centimeters in length and 30-60 in weight.
Based on initial observation, Romel Kirit, PENRO senior environmental specialist, said the Turtle had been dead for at least a day before it was found by the locals. The PENRO is now coordinating with the local government of Moalboal to trace the culprit/s behind the Turtle’s death.
The Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) is listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
Under Republic Act 9147, harming and killing endangered animals, including the pawikan, is punishable by law. Those who kill a Sea Turtle or any wildlife species listed as critically endangered species shall be imprisoned for six to 12 years and is mandated to pay a fine of P100,000 to P1,000,000.
On his Facebook page, Kalle Epp, claimed they found a dead Green Sea Turtle on a coral reef near a resort in Moalboal.
Epp, who expressed outrage over the killing, has appealed to officials to investigate the illegal poaching activities in Moalboal.
“The Turtle killed is one of the Green Sea Turtles which are a major tourist attraction, protected by national and local laws. We appeal to officials to investigate the illegal poaching activities and senseless slaughtering of protected marine life for sport in Moalboal” reads part of his post. Epp also reported to authorities the alleged increasing number of people, local and foreign, who engage into spear gun hunting.
Greenpeace Philippines has lauded the efforts of various sectors in raising the alarm on the “gross killing” of the Sea Turtle in Moalboal, a dive spot in Cebu province known for its rich marine life.
“It is condemnable that some people are trying to kill the very thing that maintains the health of the ocean including the one that brings in additional income to various sector in the municipality,” said Vince Cinches, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace.
He urged the communities to protect the Green Sea Turtles and other wildlife species as they play a critical role in promoting ecological balance and enhancing biological diversity. Cinches urged the local government to come up with clear steps to prevent such “gruesome” incidents in the future by regulating activities in the area, including but not limited to spearfishing and recreational fishing.
Also, restrictions to some activities, including expansion of fishing gear registration, he said.
“We also would like to suggest to and request from the municipality to increase enforcement capacity and to allocate needed resources to inform the public on activities that are allowed in the area,” he said.
To monitor the entire town, he said a multi-stakeholder or sector be constituted to help achieve the objective of protecting the waters of town and the rest of Tañon Strait.
“Moalboal is such an abundant destination both for local and foreign visitors, and hopefully others in the future can enjoy it,” he said.
Tañon Strait is restricted from commercial fishing to protect and conserve marine resources. It is a 161-kilometer strip dividing the provinces of Cebu and Negros Island. The strait is one of the largest and most productive Marine Protected Areas in the country, hosting 63 percent of the country’s coral species and 14 types of Whales and Dolphins. It also provides food and livelihood for 42 towns, cities and municipalities