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Congress - Proposed Bill for the Conservation of Sharks and Rays in the Philippines

Congress - Proposed Bill for the Conservation of Sharks and Rays in the Philippines

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Published by Anna Oposa
A proposed bill addressed to the Congress for the conservation and protection of all species of sharks and rays in the Philippines, the center of marine biodiversity on Earth.
A proposed bill addressed to the Congress for the conservation and protection of all species of sharks and rays in the Philippines, the center of marine biodiversity on Earth.

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Published by: Anna Oposa on Oct 13, 2011
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10/13/2011

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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) 403-774015 September 2011
Hon. Dan Fernandez
 
ChairCommittee on EcologyHouse of RepresentativesRepublic of the Philippines
RE: Revision of House Bill 174 or the Sharks and Rays Conservation Act of 2010
Dear
Hon. Fernandez
:The last 12 months have seen a number of laws, regulations and industry actions to regulateor end shark fishing and/or finning. There are already bans on shark fin sales in Hawaii,Oregon, Washington and parts of Canada. The Bahamas and Honduras have prohibitedshark fishing in the last two years. Last week, the California Senate also voted to ban thesale or possession of shark fins. Today, the Florida Fish and Wildlife ConservationCommission banned the killing of tiger sharks and three species of hammerhead sharks.The Philippines, known as the center of marine biodiversity on Earth, is falling behind. HouseBill 174, or the Sharks and Rays Conservation Act of 2010, filed by Representative GloriaMacapagal-Arroyo, has been pending in Congress since July 2010. Senator Loren Legardasponsored a similar bill in the Senate, but also pending since it was filed in December 2010.Your Honor, it is imperative that we protect these species for a number of reasons. First andforemost, sharks and rays are extremely valuable in Philippine ecotourism. A studyconducted by Simon Oliver et al. of the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Groupshows that scuba divers visiting and observing live thresher sharks in Malapascua, Cebupay amounts that collectively draw in over
6,000,000 per annum. The consistent earlymorning presence of the pelagic thresher sharks on the Shoal drives the local dive andtourism industries, fuelling about 80% of the regional economy. The value of a slaughteredthresher shark is only
8,125. However, the lack of policies makes killing such speciesacceptable. Just last month, August 12, 2011, I received a report from a dive club that
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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).
Shark slaughter in Northern Philippines 
 
 
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intercepted a boat that had come from a shark fishing expedition. The boat had a caudal finof a thresher shark, among others. All sharks were caught between Bohol and Camiguinwaters. The thresher shark was estimated to be eleven (11) feet in length and eighty (80)kilograms in weight.Let us look at the case of whale sharks, the only shark species protected by a national law.
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 In 2002, Donsol only had 867 tourists. When the fisherfolk who used to kill these gentlegiants became tour guides and whale shark watchers, the number increased to over 7, 000.In just a few years, whale shark tourism created over 300 jobs and contributed more thanUS$620,000 to our economy.The consumption of shark and ray products such as shark
ʼ
s fin soup and shark liver oil mayalso have negative impacts on our health. Studies show that the top predators of the haveamong the highest levels of toxic mercury found in fish. Organizations all over the world,including the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the World HealthOrganization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, recognizemercury to be a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause male sterility and extensive damage tothe nervous system and fetuses. These organizations have warned against eating sharkmeat, especially pregnant women, women who plan to become pregnant, and children.In addition to its potential health hazards, the high consumption of shark and ray productshas alarming implications to the environment. The 2006 Red List of shark species publishedby the World Conservation Union listed 110 species of sharks and rays that are eithercritically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable, while a further 96 are facing some level ofthreat. Most of these species grow slowly, mature late, and do not reproduce often, whichmeans that their populations are particularly vulnerable to overfishing and recover slowly, ifat all. Approximately 70-100 million sharks are killed annually to meet the demand of theinternational shark trade, which increases by more than 5% a year. As the top predators ofthe sea, sharks and rays play an important role in regulating all the species in the marineecosystem. The loss of our top predators can cause the entire marine ecosystem andbiodiversity to collapse.In this light, we have drafted a proposed revision of House Bill 174 for your review andconsideration. This was written with much assistance from various stakeholders, suchmarine biologists and veterinarians, scuba divers and environmental law enforcers.We at the Law of Nature Foundation and the environmental movement look forward toclosely and actively working with you for the passing of this Act. We are ready to help spark
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Fisheries Administrative Order No. 193, 1998
Shark finning in Southern Philippines 
 
 
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political will to promote compliance and enforcement. We can also organize a group ofvolunteers and mobilize our friends in media for information dissemination.Your Honor, while our beautiful archipelago is the center of marine biodiversity, it is also thecenter of marine
adversity 
. The protection of our rich marine resources is not just of nationalconcern, but international concern because of its global significance. My generation and thegenerations yet unborn have a right to inherit a country that has sustained your generation. Itmust continue to do so.Thank you in anticipation of your kind and expeditious action on the matter.
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We earnestlylook forward to your reply as we trust that this letter finds you in good health and spirits.Maraming salamat po.Yours truly,Anna R. OposaOfficer-in-ChargeEnvironmental Policy and Law Complianceannaoposa@gmail.com+63917-851-0209
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Under the recently-enacted Republic Act 9485, also known as the Anti-Red Tape Law, public officials are given 10 days within which toreply and report on the actions taken. Please see also Republic Act 6713, Republic Act 3019, and other pertinent laws on PublicAccountability.
 
Mangled leopard whipray in Southern Philippines 

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