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70 dead marine turtles seized in Dumaran

A motorized boat carrying 70 dead marine turtles was intercepted Thursday, July 6, by the authorities off the coast of Dumaran town in northern Palawan.

While conducting a seaborne patrol operation, the joint elements of Dumaran Municipal Police Station and Bantay Dumaran had intercepted the said boat at around 2:30 p.m. within the coastal vicinity of Barangay Bacao.

Upon initial investigation, it was found out that the boat, operated by owner Rico Gonzales Jr and his crew Kim Aristotiles, was bound for Balabac, an island town in the southernmost part of Palawan, known as a backdoor for wildlife trafficking.

An inventory revealed that the butchered marine turtles had been placed inside transparent plastic cellophane and sacks, all collected from Bgy. Maytegued, Taytay, a town in northern part of mainland Palawan.

The confiscated items were turned over to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) in Puerto Princesa on Friday morning, July 7.

The PCSD Staff has identified the recovered marine turtles as critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).

Generally, marine turtles are sought after for its meat, eggs and shells. Regardless of species, however, they are all internationally and nationally protected from poaching that decimates their population in the wild.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) listed all seven species as Appendix I, meaning commercial trade is banned and doing so is illegal.

Authorities are set to file charges against the suspects for violating Section 102 (Fishing or Taking Care of Rare, Threatened or Endangered Species) of RA 10654 or the amended Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.