THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have seized some 315 kilos of manta ray meat, an endangered aquatic species off Zamboanga del Norte.

The BFAR regional office said in a statement that the meat of manta rays was seized last week from two fishing boats spotted in the municipal waters of Labason, Zamboanga del Norte.

A composite team of BFAR, Police Maritime Group, and Labason Municipal Agriculture Office were on seaborne patrol when they spotted two commercial fishing boats, F/B Lionel James and F/B Ron-Ron, fishing in the municipal waters of Labason.

The BFAR said of the total 315 kilos, 300 kilograms were seized from F/B Lionel James while the remaining 15 kilos from F/B Ron-Ron.

The crew of the two fishing boats was in the act of slaughtering manta rays and even witnessed some fish workers throwing the manta ray meat overboard in the attempt to hide their offense, according to the BFAR.

The two fishing vessels were ordered to dock at the shore of Malintubuan village, Labason and the boat skippers and the owners were issued with a Notice of Violation of Section 102 (Fishing or Taking of Rare, Threatened or Endangered Species) of Republic Act (RA) 8550 as amended by RA 10654.

The slaughtered endangered aquatic species were turned over to District Jail of Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte for proper disposition as assisted by the Municipal Police Station of Labason.

As listed in the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (Cites), Appendix II, manta rays are identified as belonging to a group of species associated with significant unregulated, unsustainable fishing pressures and severe population depletion.

BFAR has strongly reiterated and warned the general public that it is unlawful to fish or take, catch, gather, sell, purchase, possess, transport, export, forward or ship out aquatic species listed in appendix II of the Cites.

The BFAR said the offender may suffer an administrative penalty of P300,000 to P3,000,000 and/or upon conviction by a court of law, punished by imprisonment of five to eight years plus twice the administrative fine. (SunStar Zamboanga)

Source: SunStar (