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THE LAW OF NATURE FOUNDATION∗
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24 August 2011 Hon. Proceso J. Alcala Secretary Department of Agriculture Diliman, Quezon City SUBJECT: A proposed Fisheries Administrative Order for the protection and conservation of pelagic thresher sharks in Philippine waters Dear Hon. Alcala: My name is Anna Oposa, and I would like to work with you and your Department for the protection and conservation of thresher sharks (Alopias pelagicus) in Philippine waters. For the past two decades, pelagic thresher sharks have been observed by divers in Monad Shoal, a shallow coastal seamount in the Philippines, where they regularly interact with cleaner fish. This activity is unique to Malapascua, Cebu, attracting divers, underwater photographers, and scientists both here and abroad. Because these mainly oceanic sharks venture into shallow coastal waters, they have become highly vulnerable to fishing and finning. Just last Friday, August 12, 2011, I received a report from a dive club that intercepted a boat that had come from a shark fishing expedition. The boat had a caudal fin of a thresher shark, among others. All sharks were caught between Bohol and Camiguin 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 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' (IUCN) Red List. In order to reproduce, a female shark needs to be at least 8-13 years old and a male shark 7-10 years old; hence, they have low fertility rates and mature late. More importantly, thresher sharks are extremely valuable in Philippine ecotourism. A study conducted by Simon Oliver et al. of the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Group shows that the value of a slaughtered thresher shark is only ₱8,125. Scuba divers visiting and observing live thresher sharks pay amounts that collectively draw in over ₱ 6,000,000 per
The Law of Nature is the international name of The Batas Kalikasan Foundation, a duly registered non-profit organization to advance Environmental Law education, compliance and enforcement. (SEC Reg. No. A200209645, June 14, 2002).
annum. The consistent early morning presence of the pelagic thresher sharks on the Shoal drives the local dive and tourism industries, fuelling about 80% of the regional economy. I too had 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 the marine ecosystem. In 2008, a landmark ordinance was passed in Batangas to protect thresher sharks. However, we still lack policies that protect them on a national scale. Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Sen. Loren Legarda have filed bills to ban the catching, selling, and purchasing of all shark species in the Congress1 and Senate2 respectively, but I have been told that more research is required for these to be passed. Because there is already a considerable amount of scientific data on thresher sharks in the Philippines, I fervently urge you to review and consider the proposed Fisheries Administrative Order I have attached. We at the Law of Nature Foundation look forward to closely and actively working with you for the passing of this Order. We will help spark the political will to promote compliance and enforcement. We can also organize a group of volunteers and mobilize our partners in media for information dissemination. Sir, the Philippines has been touted as the center of marine biodiversity on Earth by several academic journals. This means that the protection of our rich marine resources is not just of national concern, but international concern because of its global significance. My generation and the 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.3 We earnestly look forward to your reply as we trust that this letter finds you in good health and spirits. Maraming salamat po. Yours truly,
(SGD.) Anna R. Oposa Director for Environmental Law Compliance and Enforcement email@example.com +63917-851-0209
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 OTHER PURPOSES, or the Sharks And Rays Conservation Act of 2010. Pending in Congress since July 27, 2010. Senate Bill No. 2616 entitled BANNING THE CATCHING, SALE, PURCHASE, IMPORTATION AND EXPORTATION OF ALL SHARKS AND RAYS. Pending in the Senate since December 6, 2010. Under the recently-enacted Republic Act 9485, also known as the Anti-Red Tape Law, public officials are given 10 days 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.
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Copy furnished: Hon. Segfredo R. Serrano, Ph.D. Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, Research and Regulation Department of Agriculture Atty. Asis Perez Director Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Mr. Lory Tan President and CEO World Wildlife Fund-Philippines Mr. Romy Trono Executive Director Conservation International Dr. AA Yaptinchay Director Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines National and international print and electronic media outlets
Republic of the Philippines DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Office of the Secretary Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City August 24, 2011 FISHERIES ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. ___ Series of 2011 SUBJECT: Ban on the taking or catching, selling, purchasing and possessing, transporting and exporting of Thresher Sharks WHEREAS, the 1987 Constitution mandates that “[t]he state shall protect and advance the right of people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature”; WHEREAS, the 1987 Constitution mandates the state to "protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone", such wealth being an essential aspect of our national patrimony; WHEREAS, under Section 2 of R.A. 8550, it is a declared the policy of the State to achieve the “[c]onservation, protection and sustained management of the country's fishery and aquatic resources”; WHEREAS, under R.A. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act provides that, “[i]t shall be the policy of the State to conserve the countryʼs wildlife resources, their habitats for sustainability,” and shall work towards the initiate scientific studies towards enhancement of biological diversity; WHEREAS, the state-adopted policy on protecting and conserving biodiversity under E.O. No. 578 extends to all the components such as the ecosystems, species and genus; WHEREAS, the Philippines is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals; WHEREAS, in recent years, sharks have gained commercial importance and are increasingly targeted for its meat, skin, cartilage, teeth, jaws, liver and other internal organs; WHEREAS, the increased demands for shark and shark products in the past 30 years have led to a considerable number of species threatened with extinction due to a
combination of factors including degradation of important habitats like nursery and breeding grounds, from development and pollution; WHEREAS, thresher sharks (Alopias pelagicus) are classed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' Red List; WHEREAS, thresher sharks mature late and have low fecundity; WHEREAS, thresher sharks are valuable to Philippine ecotourism; Pursuant to Sections 65 and 107 of RA No. 8550 otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, the following rules and regulations for the protection and conservation of pelagic thresher sharks in Philippine waters are hereby promulgated: SECTION 1. Definition.—The terms used herein shall be construed as follows: Thresher shark—The pelagic thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus) is one of three recognized thresher shark (Alopiidae) species. The shark reaches 365 cm in length, half of which comprises an elongate tail fin. Export—means to send or ship out of the country. Sell—includes barter, exchange, or offering or exposing for sale. Take or catch—includes the killing, capturing, trapping, snaring and netting of thresher sharks. Transport—means to carry or move or cause to be carried or moved. Possess—means to have actual or constructive possession or control thereof. Protection—the act of protecting from loss; shield or shelter. SECTION 2. Prohibition.—It shall be unlawful to take or catch thresher sharks in Philippine waters or to sell, purchase, possess, transport, or export the same whether dead or alive, in any state or form whether raw or processed. It shall likewise, be unlawful to wound or to kill thresher sharks in the course of catching other species of fish. Thresher sharks which are accidentally included in the catch by any gear shall immediately be released unharmed in the sea; otherwise the liability shall be deemed to still exist. Dead thresher sharks which drift to the seashore shall be surrendered to the nearest Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit or Bureau of Fisheries Regional or Provincial Fishery Office, as the case may be for proper disposition.
SECTION 3. Issuance of Permit to Conduct Research and/or Collect Specimens for Research/Scientific Purposes.—The Secretary or his/her duly appointed representative, upon the recommendation of the Director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), may issue a Special Permit in favor of any government or private institution engaged in purely research work on thresher sharks, subject to such terms and conditions as the DA Secretary may deem wise to impose. SECTION 4. Penalty.—Violation of this Order shall subject the offender to a fine of not less than ten thousand pesos (P10,00.00) pesos to not more than fifty thousand (P50,000) pesos and imprisonment from six (6) months to four (4) years, depending on the discretion of the court: Provided, That the Director of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is hereby empowered to impose upon the offender an administrative fine not more than ten thousand (P10,000.00) pesos or to cancel his/her permit or license or to impose such fine and to cancel his/her permit or license at his/her discretion including the confiscation of the thresher shark/s for proper disposition/documentation of the government. SECTION 5. Repealing Clause.—All existing administrative orders, rules and regulations which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Order are hereby repealed. SECTION 6. Effectivity.—This Order shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in the Official Gazette and/or in two (2) newspaper of general circulation.
PROCESCO J. ALCALA Secretary