Greenpeace seeks ban on shark hunting in Surigao

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/30 May) — A conservation group urged local government units in the Surigao provinces to impose a ban on the catching of all kinds of sharks.

Vince Cinches, campaigner for Greenpeace-Philippines told MindaNews Friday a ban was needed to prevent the extinction of sharks.

“Shark poaching is not just in Surigao but it’s all over the country and abroad,” he said.

Local fishermen have been lured into shark hunting by the high price of shark fins.

In 2011-2012, local buyers would buy shark fins at P11,000 to 14,000 per kilo depending on the type of shark, its size and moisture. They preferred sun-dried fins.

Current prices, however, have dropped to P5,000 or lower. “The price suddenly went down because buyers in Manila cannot export it to China or other countries,” a local buyer said.

Local buyers here said they continue to buy shark fins even if they know it’s illegal as no one seems to enforce the law against it.

For their part, some fishermen still hunt sharks despite the drop in prices of their fins because their bodies can now be sold.

“Shark body buyers will just meet us in the high seas, they will buy the bodies at 70 per kilo and bring them to Cebu to make fish balls,” a fisherman from Punta Bilar said.

Cinches said the continued capture, sale and transport of sharks and their products, both in domestic and international markets, threaten shark populations and have affected the ecosystem.

He said there has been “no national regulation to protect the species 13 years after the enactment of RA (Republic Act) 9147 and 15 years after RA 8550.”

RA 9147 is known as the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, while RA 8550 is known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

Cinches said it’s now high time to protect this marine species otherwise they would be gone.

The country celebrates Ocean Month every May.

“Taking out the sharks in the ocean can destabilize the food chain and has the widespread negative ecological impacts on community structure,” he said.

Cinches said Cebu province recently passed an ordinance against shark poaching.

He said the other local government units should pass a similar ordinance.

Local legislators in Surigao, particularly those who are handling environment committees, have been silent on the issue.

Officials of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Caraga Region as well as the Philippine National Police Maritime Command have remained mum too. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)