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Letter and proposed Fisheries Administrative Order to protect thresher sharks in the Philippines

Letter and proposed Fisheries Administrative Order to protect thresher sharks in the Philippines

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Published by Anna Oposa
Thresher sharks are friends, not food :)
Thresher sharks are friends, not food :)

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Published by: Anna Oposa on Aug 25, 2011
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10/16/2011

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
THE LAW OF NATURE FOUNDATION
 
6-J Westgate Tower, Investment Drive, Madrigal Business ParkAlabang, Muntinlupa City, Philippines 1780http://thelawofnature.ph(+632) 403-7740
 24 August 2011
Hon. Proceso J. Alcala
SecretaryDepartment of AgricultureDiliman, Quezon City
SUBJECT: A proposed Fisheries Administrative Order for the protection andconservation of pelagic thresher sharks in Philippine waters
Dear
Hon. Alcala
:My name is Anna Oposa, and I would liketo work with you and your Department forthe protection and conservation ofthresher sharks (
Alopias pelagicus 
) inPhilippine waters. For the past twodecades, pelagic thresher sharks havebeen observed by divers in Monad Shoal,a shallow coastal seamount in thePhilippines, where they regularly interactwith cleaner fish. This activity is unique toMalapascua, Cebu, attracting divers,underwater photographers, and scientistsboth here and abroad.
 
Because these mainly oceanic sharks venture into shallow coastal waters, they have becomehighly vulnerable to fishing and finning. Just last Friday, August 12, 2011, I received a reportfrom a dive club that intercepted a boat that had come from a shark fishing expedition. The boathad a caudal fin of a thresher shark, among others. All sharks were caught between Bohol andCamiguin waters. The thresher shark was estimated to be eleven (11) feet in length and eighty(80) kilograms in weight.This is alarming because pelagic thresher sharks have been classed as
Vulnerable 
by theInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' (IUCN) Red List. Inorder to reproduce, a female shark needs to be at least 8-13 years old and a male shark 7-10years old; hence, they have low fertility rates and mature late.More importantly, thresher sharks are extremely valuable in Philippine ecotourism. A studyconducted by Simon Oliver et al. of the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Groupshows that the value of a slaughtered thresher shark is only
8,125. Scuba divers visiting andobserving live thresher sharks pay amounts that collectively draw in over
6,000,000 per
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The Law of Nature is the international name of The
Batas Kalikasan
Foundation, a duly registered non-profit organization to advanceEnvironmental Law education, compliance and enforcement. (SEC Reg. No. A200209645, June 14, 2002).
 
 
2
annum. The consistent early morning presence of the pelagic thresher sharks on the Shoaldrives the local dive and tourism industries, fuelling about 80% of the regional economy. I toohad the good fortune of being able to dive with these species in May of 2010.Sharks, as the top predator of the sea, play an important role in maintaining the balance of themarine ecosystem. In 2008, a landmark ordinance was passed in Batangas to protect threshersharks. However, we still lack policies that protect them on a national scale. Rep. GloriaMacapagal-Arroyo and Sen. Loren Legarda have filed bills to ban the catching, selling, andpurchasing of all shark species in the Congress
1
and Senate
2
respectively, but I have been toldthat more research is required for these to be passed.Because there is already a considerable amount of scientific data on thresher sharks in thePhilippines, I fervently urge you to review and consider the proposed Fisheries AdministrativeOrder I have attached. We at the Law of Nature Foundation look forward to closely and activelyworking with you for the passing of this Order. We will help spark the political will to promotecompliance and enforcement. We can also organize a group of volunteers and mobilize ourpartners in media for information dissemination.Sir, the Philippines has been touted as the center of marine biodiversity on Earth by severalacademic journals. This means that the protection of our rich marine resources is not just ofnational concern, but
international 
concern because of its global significance. My generation andthe generations yet unborn have a right to inherit a country that has sustained your generation.It must continue to do so.Thank you in anticipation of your kind and expeditious action on the matter.
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We earnestly lookforward to your reply as we trust that this letter finds you in good health and spirits.Maraming salamat po.Yours truly,(SGD.) Anna R. OposaDirector for Environmental Law Compliance and Enforcementannaoposa@gmail.com+63917-851-0209
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House Bill 174 entitled
 
AN ACT BANNING THE CATCHING, SALE, PURCHASE, POSSESSION,TRANSPORTATION AND EXPORTATION OF ALL SHARKS AND RAYS IN THE COUNTRY AND FOR OTHERPURPOSES, or the Sharks And Rays Conservation Act of 2010. Pending in Congress since July 27, 2010.
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Senate Bill No. 2616 entitled BANNING THE CATCHING, SALE, PURCHASE, IMPORTATION ANDEXPORTATION OF ALL SHARKS AND RAYS. Pending in the Senate since December 6, 2010.
3
Under the recently-enacted Republic Act 9485, also known as the Anti-Red Tape Law, public officials are given 10days within which to reply and report on the actions taken. Please see also Republic Act 6713, Republic Act 3019,and other pertinent laws on Public Accountability.
 
 
3
Copy furnished:
Hon. Segfredo R. Serrano, Ph.D.
Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, Research and Regulation
 
Department of Agriculture
Atty. Asis Perez
DirectorBureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
Mr. Lory Tan
President and CEOWorld Wildlife Fund-Philippines
Mr. Romy Trono
Executive DirectorConservation International
Dr. AA Yaptinchay
DirectorMarine Wildlife Watch of the PhilippinesNational and international print and electronic media outlets

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