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15 September 2011 Hon. Dan Fernandez Chair Committee on Ecology House of Representatives Republic 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 regulate or 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 prohibited shark fishing in the last two years. Last week, the California Senate also voted to ban the sale or possession of shark fins. Today, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 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. House Bill 174, or the Sharks and Rays Conservation Act of 2010, filed by Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has been pending in Congress since July 2010. Senator Loren Legarda sponsored a similar bill in the Senate, but also pending since it was filed in December 2010.
Shark slaughter in Northern Philippines
Your Honor, it is imperative that we protect these species for a number of reasons. First and foremost, sharks and rays are extremely valuable in Philippine ecotourism. A study conducted by Simon Oliver et al. of the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Group shows that scuba divers visiting and observing live thresher sharks in Malapascua, Cebu pay amounts that collectively draw in over ₱6,000,000 per 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. The value of a slaughtered thresher shark is only ₱8,125. However, the lack of policies makes killing such species acceptable. Just last month, August 12, 2011, I received a report from a dive club that
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).
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. Let us look at the case of whale sharks, the only shark species protected by a national law.1 In 2002, Donsol only had 867 tourists. When the fisherfolk who used to kill these gentle giants 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 than US$620,000 to our economy. The consumption of shark and ray products such as sharkʼs fin soup and shark liver oil may also have negative impacts on our health. Studies show that the top predators of the have among the highest levels of toxic mercury found in fish. Organizations all over the world, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, recognize mercury to be a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause male sterility and extensive damage to the nervous system and fetuses. These organizations have warned against eating shark meat, especially pregnant women, women who plan to become pregnant, and children.
Shark finning in Southern Philippines
In addition to its potential health hazards, the high consumption of shark and ray products has alarming implications to the environment. The 2006 Red List of shark species published by the World Conservation Union listed 110 species of sharks and rays that are either critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable, while a further 96 are facing some level of threat. Most of these species grow slowly, mature late, and do not reproduce often, which means that their populations are particularly vulnerable to overfishing and recover slowly, if at all. Approximately 70-100 million sharks are killed annually to meet the demand of the international shark trade, which increases by more than 5% a year. As the top predators of the sea, sharks and rays play an important role in regulating all the species in the marine ecosystem. The loss of our top predators can cause the entire marine ecosystem and biodiversity to collapse. In this light, we have drafted a proposed revision of House Bill 174 for your review and consideration. This was written with much assistance from various stakeholders, such marine biologists and veterinarians, scuba divers and environmental law enforcers. We at the Law of Nature Foundation and the environmental movement look forward to closely and actively working with you for the passing of this Act. We are ready to help spark
Fisheries Administrative Order No. 193, 1998
political will to promote compliance and enforcement. We can also organize a group of volunteers and mobilize our friends in media for information dissemination. Your Honor, while our beautiful archipelago is the center of marine biodiversity, it is also the center of marine adversity. 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.
Mangled leopard whipray in Southern Philippines
Thank you in anticipation of your kind and expeditious action on the matter.2 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,
Anna R. Oposa Officer-in-Charge Environmental Policy and Law Compliance firstname.lastname@example.org +63917-851-0209
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.
CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES FIFTEENTH CONGRESS ___ Regular Session HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES House Bill No. ____ Introduced by Representative _______________________ AN ACT BANNING THE CATCHING, SALE, PURCHASE, POSSESSION AND TRADE OF ALL SHARKS AND RAYS, THEIR DERIVATIVES AND BYPRODUCTS IN THE PHILIPPINES Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in the Philippines in Congress assembled: SECTION 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the “Sharks and Rays Conservation Act of 2011”. SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy. – It is the declared policy of the State to conserve, protect and sustain the management of the country’s sharks and rays population to promote ecological balance and maintain marine biodiversity, and to ensure the well-being of present and future generation of Filipinos. SECTION 3. Definition of Terms. – For purposes of this Act, the following terms are hereby defined: (a) (b) “Sharks” are fish with full cartilaginous skeletons and highly streamlined bodies; “Rays” are cartilaginous fishes with horizontally flattened bodies, enlarged wing-like pectoral fins and gill slits on their ventral surfaces; “Conservation” means preservation and sustainable utilization of wildlife and or maintenance, restoration and enhancement of the habitat; “Habitat” means place or environment where species or subspecies naturally occurs or has naturally established its population; “Derivatives” include but not limited to carcass or meat, skin, cartilage, teeth, jaws, liver and other internal organs;
“By-products” include but not limited to fin soup, oil, fashion accessories, and other finished products made from of any part of a shark; “Cause to be caught” means putting direct order of a company or individual to another company or individual to possess, catch, sell, buy, and transport.
SECTION 4. Prohibition. – It shall be unlawful for any person or corporation to catch, cause to be caught, sell, purchase, possess and trade sharks and rays, their derivatives and by-products in the Philippines. It shall also be unlawful to wound or kill sharks and rays in the course of catching other species of fish. Sharks and rays accidentally included in the catch shall be immediately released unharmed in the sea. Dumping of waste products detrimental to these species shall also be prohibited. SECTION 5. Illegal Acts. – It shall be unlawful for any person or corporation to undertake the following acts: (a) killing or inflicting injury on sharks and rays; (b) catching, causing to be caught, selling, purchasing and possessing of sharks and rays, their derivatives and by-products; (c) transporting, importing and exporting sharks and rays, their derivatives and by-products; (d) destroying their habitats, whether intentional or otherwise, directly or indirectly. SECTION 6. Penalties for Violations of Act. – For any person or corporation that undertakes illegal acts under the immediately preceding section, the following penalties and/or fines shall be imposed: (a) killing or inflicting injury on sharks and rays – imprisonment of a minimum of one (1) year to twelve (12) years and a fine of five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) per cubic centimeter of shark and/or ray carcass or meat, or body mass if alive, and shoulder all costs related to live shark and/or ray release as determined by the nearest Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) office. (b) catching, causing to be caught, selling, purchasing and possessing of sharks and rays, their derivatives and by-products – imprisonment of a minimum of (1) year to twelve (12) years and a fine of five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) per individual item, and/or if in liquid such as soup or oil, per 16 oz. as assessed by the nearest BFAR office. (c) transporting, importing and exporting sharks and rays, their derivatives and by-products – imprisonment of a minimum of one (1) year to twelve
(12) years and a fine of five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) per individual item, and/or if liquid such as soup or oil, per 16 oz. as assessed by the nearest BFAR office. (d) destroying their habitats – imprisonment of six (6) years to twelve (12) years and obligation to compensate for the restoration of the damage. The amount will be equivalent to the potential value of the area if species are alive and healthy. Provided, further, That if the violation is committed by a juridical person or government entity, their officers shall be liable without prejudice to any further liability for violation of any provision of other applicable laws. SECTION 7. Lead Agency. – The BFAR shall be the lead agency to implement this Act. The BFAR shall spearhead the development of a national shark and ray rescue, recovery and release plan for stranding, by-catch reports and confiscation of carcass or by-products sharks and rays. The BFAR shall also spearhead the development of an updated Philippines sharks and rays database for the purpose of management and protection under the BFAR National Stock Assessment Program, and in coordination with BFAR Regional Field Offices (BFAR-RFO), the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), Provincial Veterinary Offices (PVO) and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENRO). The Provincial Attorney’s Office of each Local Government Unit (LGU) shall ensure the swift and timely prosecution of violators and spearhead in the development of protocols for evidence collection and preservation as guide to the police. The Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Philippine Council for Sports and Scuba Diving under the DOT shall also coordinate with the BFAR and LGUs to identify habitats and feeding grounds of sharks and rays and declare the same as protected tourism estates. Upon the identification of these areas, they shall be promoted for restorative ecotourism. To eliminate the demand that results in the killing of sharks and rays, selling and serving of shark and ray derivatives and by-products and menus with reference to shark and ray derivatives and by-products shall be prohibited. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shall prepare a phase out plan for serving shark’s fin soup and menus with shark and ray derivatives and byproducts in restaurants. The Philippine National Police (PNP), the Philippine Coast Guard, and LGUs shall assist the DA-BFAR and other agencies in the implementation of this bill.
SECTION 8. Information and Education. – The BFAR, DOT, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), LGUs, environmental nongovernment organizations (e.g., The Law of Nature Foundation, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines), private organizations (e.g., Manila Ocean Park) and academic institutions (e.g., UP Marine Science Institute, Silliman University Marine Laboratory) shall undertake a nationwide information and education campaign to make Filipinos understand the value of sharks and rays in the marine ecosystem and tourism. Each BFAR-RFO, PVO and PENRO must be familiar with the species of sharks and rays found and traded in their respective LGUs. The Provincial Police Office must ensure that all police stations in the Province have a copy of this Act posted in their bulletin boards and that this Act is disseminated and discussed within the police stations as well as meetings conducted in Barangays. The League of Municipalities and League of Cities of the Philippines shall ensure that all members implement this Act in their respective territories and ensure that all Barangay leaders, veterinarians, agriculturists and Bantay Dagat members are fully aware of this Act. SECTION 9. Implementing Rules and Regulations – The BFAR, in coordination with the DOT and DTI, shall issue, within ninety (90) days after the effectivity of this Act, the rules and regulations for its effective implementation. SECTION 10. Separability Clause. – If, for any reason, any section or provision of this Act is held unconstitutional or invalid, the other sections or provisions hereof shall not be affected thereby and shall continue to be in full force and effect. SECTION 11. Repealing Clause. – All laws, decrees, executive orders, rules and regulations or parts thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly. SECTION 12. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days from its publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two (2) national newspaper of general circulation. Approved,
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