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Philippines' sharks under siege from poachers, lawmaker warns

Legarda noted a recent news report showing fishermen engaged in the act of shark finning without apprehension as there is no law prohibiting such act

Gulf News

Manila: A lawmaker expressed concern over the survival of sharks in the country's waters, as she said that continued poaching caused by the sharks' fin blackmarket could spell the demise of the creatures from Philippine seas.

"Clearly, the absence of the law forbidding the catching of sharks, gives people the courage to continue the practice, which could eventually lead to the extinction of shark species in the country, especially that they reproduce slowly," Senator Loren Legarda warned.

Legarda noted a recent news report showing fishermen engaged in the act of shark finning without apprehension as there is no law prohibiting such act.

The practice of shark finning involves the removal of the fin, which can be sold at a price between P600 (Dhs 51.52) and P3,000 (Dhs 257.61) per kilo. Afterwards, the finless shark is thrown back into the sea with its life already in danger as it could no longer move normally.

The Senator also cited the conservation group, Shark Savers' statement that the shark population is declining by as much as 90 per cent because up to 100 million sharks are killed every year.

Legarda explained that this concern could be addressed with the enactment into law of the proposed measure logged as Senate Bill 2616, An Act Banning the Catching, Sale, Purchase, Possession, Transportation, Importation and Exportation of All Sharks and Rays or Any Part Thereof in the Country.

The bill proposes to declare as unlawful the wounding or killing of sharks and rays, unless there is threat to human life or safety.

The Shark's Fin Soup and the selling of shark's fin will likewise be prohibited to eliminate the demand that results in the massive killing of sharks.

"Sharks, as predators of the sea, play a vital role in regulating the ecological balance, particularly the health of important commercial fish species, population balance, and protection of coral reefs. Being a country with about two-thirds of the known marine species of the Pacific living in its coastal waters, the Philippines plays a crucial role in protecting marine species," Legarda stressed.

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