PNP-Maritime foils attempt to smuggle marine turtles in Balabac
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, July 19 (PIA) -- Operatives of the Special Boat Unit (SBU) of the Philippine National Police-Maritime stopped a smuggling attempt involving 51 marine turtles on Bahayan Island in Barangay Sebaring, Balabac municipality last July 13.
The SBU contingent led by PCIns. Rico Payungga recovered 48 alive and three dead marine turtles found in nets, each weighing about 50-70 kilos.
In an interview over a local radio station, Payungga said they were able to recover the turtles based on information given by local residents. He said that those watching over the turtles fled when they saw them approaching the island.
He said this kind of activity has been going on for quite a while where a local resident, who associates with a Chinese buyer gathers marine turtles and delivers these to a Chinese vessel anchored near the Philippine border.
Payungga said his team will continue to monitor and search for illegal activities in support of the intensified campaign against the widespread wildlife trade and smuggling in southern Palawan especially in the Bataraza and Balabac waters.
The turtles were inventoried and tagged by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development staff in Barangay Rio Tuba in the municipality of Bataraza.
Marine turtles are classified as critically endangered species under the red list category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. The insatiable demand in the Chinese market for exotic food and traditional medicines has placed marine turtles next to near extinction. (LBR/VSM/PIA-Palawan)
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