5 Vietnamese poachers nabbed near Tubbataha marine park

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — Five Vietnamese poachers were nabbed Wednesday near the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) in Cagayancillo, northern Palawan by a patrolling multi-role response vessel (MRRV) of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Ensign Allison Tindog of the Coast Guard District Palawan (CGDP) said Thursday night that the crew of the fishing vessel with bow number “RD 97623TS” were arrested by BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) at 11:55 p.m. on September 19.

The arrested Vietnamese fishermen are Cao Van Linh, 30, the boat captain; Phon Van Tae, 51; Truong Van Lac, 38; Dinh Cong An, 41; and a 15-year old, who was not named.

“They were apprehended in the vicinity of Bancuran Island. The Coast Guard in Palawan received an intelligence report and to verify the veracity of the report, it directed BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) to conduct patrols in the area,” Tindog said.

He said the fishermen were nabbed after a 30-minute chase east of Bancuran Island in the Sulu Sea, where the TRNP is located.

The Vietnamese fishing vessel has an assortment of sharks and other marine species that might have been poached in the Bancuran Island area, he added.

Tindog said Bancuran Island is in southwest Palawan, where green sea turtles have always been sighted and is a rich fishing ground.

“When we launched the anti-terrorism boat, Commodore Allen Toribio of the CGDP also announced that another white patrol ship will be sent to Palawan by Admiral Elson Hermogino of the PCG,that is BRP Cabra, which has already made an accomplishment by apprehending the Vietnamese fishing vessel. We are thankful to Admiral Hermogino for keeping this promise so we can better guard Tubbataha, and generally, Palawan’s marine environment,” he added.

He said the BRP Cabra was particularly sent to Palawan by Hermogino to support the Western Command and the provincial government in “security, safety, and environmental protection.”

Tubbataha Reefs is a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Lawyer Lovely Rose Catayen, legal officer of the CGDP, said cases for violation of Republic Act 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, Republic Act 7611 or the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) law, and illegal entry may be filed against the foreign fishing crew.

The content of the Vietnamese fishing vessel is still being inventoried by environmental authorities as of this writing.

Last May, 20 Vietnamese poachers using two large commercial fishing vessels were also arrested off Mangsee Island in Balabac by the Philippine Navy’s Patrol Craft 375.

The boat contained over 175 assorted species of sharks and manta rays. The 20 Vietnamese poachers are currently detained at the Palawan Provincial Jail. Celeste Anna Formoso/PNA-northboundasia.com