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INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON

Sariaya coast haven for rare sea turtles

By: - Correspondent / @dtmallarijrINQ
/ 10:08 PM February 22, 2012

LUCENA CITY—The shores of Tayabas Bay in Sariaya town in Quezon have been called “haven of baby sea turtles” after Tuesday’s release of 92 Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricate) in Barangay Guisguis.

Only last week, 123 Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings were released in nearby Barangay San Roque, Ernesto Amores Jr., municipal agriculture officer, said by phone yesterday.

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Similar events took place in other coastal villages last year but most went undocumented by the municipal agriculture office, he said.

“The fishermen and coastal villagers were fully aware of the law prohibiting possession and killing of endangered marine species,” Amores said.

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Appendix I of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species deems it illegal to import or export turtle products, or to kill, capture or harass the sea turtle listed as “critically endangered.”

Republic Act No. 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 and RA 9147 or the Wildlife Act punish people who fish and take rare and threatened species, and destroy their habitats.

Coastal villagers and owners of several beach resorts are “in solidarity” with the local government in promoting Sariaya as a sea turtle haven. Together with representatives of Tanggol Kalikasan-Southern Tagalog and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), they witnessed how the gentle creatures, locally known as pawikan, crawled toward the bay waters before sunset on Tuesday.

Amores cited the effort of a resort owner, Rene Panganiban, who received technical help from the local government when he initiated a campaign to protect sea turtles waiting for their eggs to hatch along the coast for a period of 58 days.

Amores urged business establishments along the bay to actively participate in such campaigns as these promote the local government’s tourism thrusts.

The Sariaya coastline, host to many beach resorts and other tourist-oriented businesses, serves as sanctuary to turtles that usually come to lay and hatch their eggs from October to December.

Along with the DENR in Quezon, the municipality plans to establish a turtle hatching site in San Roque.

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TAGS: Animals, Conservation, Sariaya, sea turtles
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