PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 11 – Poaching charges have been filed against 10 Vietnamese fishermen who were recently arrested with a haul of around 70 unidentified shark species near the Malampaya natural gas platform off the coast of El Nido, northern Palawan.
Palawan provincial prosecutor Allen Ross Rodriguez confirmed to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) early Friday morning that the foreign fishermen were charged past 11:00 p.m. Thursday for infringement of Section 91 of Republic Act 10654.
“Yes, they were charged late last night for poaching. Additional charges might be filed against them for violating the Wildlife Conservation Act if it will be proven that the sharks are endangered or threatened species,” Rodriguez said.
Until now, the sharks that were seized from the Vietnamese nationals have not yet been identified, said Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-MIMAROPA OIC Regional Director Elizer Salilig.
The cases against the Vietnamese nationals were filed in Puerto Princesa at the Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC). They were identified as boat captain Nguyen Thanh Hiep, 46; Vo Van Lang, 47; Phan Dung, 49; Truong Cao Ky, 51; Dinh Van Hai, 46; Bui Van Bao, 30; Tran Ngoc Son, 24; Do Hung, 54; Nguyen Van Huynh, 56; and Nguyen Cung Vu, 22 – all residents of the coastal province of Phu Yen, Vietnam.
On Tuesday, patrolling Philippine Navy (PN) frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar chanced upon Vietnamese fishing vessel Hoa Huong 20 nautical miles southwest of the Malampaya natural gas platform, or around 32 nautical miles northwest of El Nido’s Tapiutan Island.
A visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) of the foreign fishing vessel yielded 70 pieces of sharks being kept in cold storages onboard.
On August 9, joint teams from concerned environment agencies led by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-MIMAROPA, went to El Nido where the boat was held under custody. The mission was to conduct an inventory of the content of the foreign fishing vessel, according to Salilig. Celeste Anna Formoso/PNA-northboundasia.com