Black corals poaching is new muro ami says DENR exec
MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Ramon Paje Monday branded as the new “muro-ami” the collection of seashells and black corals in the country.
And the sad part was that children, Paje said, were being used in this illegal activity.
“I believe Mr. Chairman… that the collection of these seashells and black corals is now the new muro-ami,” he said when he faced the joint hearing of the Senate committees on environment and natural resources, agriculture, finance, climate change, and local government.
“And the sad part, Mr. Chairman, I believe (and) I will not be surprised if they are also using children in extracting these (seashells and lack corals) because children particularly in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi are good divers. They can stay under water for more than 20 minutes and it’s more than enough time to extract these black corals in deeper waters beyond coral reefs,” he pointed out.
Paje also reiterated during the hearing the possible involvement of the local government units or their non-participation to prevent the poaching of black corals in their respective areas.
“Most of these corals, because they need sunlight, can be found within the 15 kilometer municipal water. Definitely your honors, I can assure you, corals and shells can be found in the 15 kilometer municipal water which is exclusively under the jurisdiction of the mayors or the LGUs,” he said.
Paje said that it was the reason he asked Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo to help them identify and unmask “the somehow – either the participation or the non-participation” of the LGUs from the sources of the said contraband.
“Because I strongly believe, your honor, that without the participation or maybe because of the absence of vigilance or participation of the LGUs, these things can happen or not happen,” he further said.
Paje assured that they could stop the poaching of black corals with the help of concerned agencies—the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Maritime Industry and the Bureau of Customs.
“We will assure you Mr. Chaimran, we will see the end of this but somehow we have to focus on social fencing and the concerns of the LGUs because we can’t stop this without the support of the mayors…” he said.