Sacks of endangered seashells seized in boat
ZAMBOANGA CITY—A total of 104 jute sacks containing seashells of endangered species were seized last week by Navy men in a boat in waters between this city and Basilan province.
Pedling Munap, chief of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources here, said the contraband included king helmet shells (Cassis tuberosa) and horned helmet shells (Cassis cornuta).
The sacks, weighing 30 kilograms each, were found on Thursday in a “jungkong,” a motorized boat without an outrigger, which was believed to have come from Tawi-Tawi province, Munap said.
Munap said he suspected that the jungkong cargo was to be transferred to a bigger vessel here and brought to Manila, Cebu or Iloilo, where these shells fetch high prices. Each shell could fetch as much as P250, he said.
He said the operator of the jungkong would be charged with illegal transport of endangered marine animals. “We still don’t know who he is,” he said.
Trade in banned marine species is widespread in Western Mindanao.
In June, a man selling endangered marine species on the Internet was arrested in Pagadian City after a search on his house yielded more than 300 endangered marine and wildlife products. The suspect, Earl Frederick Galupo, is believed to be part of a bigger network of poachers.
Authorities discovered Galupo’s illegal activity after he posted pictures of his products on the Internet.
In July last year, authorities also made several arrests and seized dozens of turtles in Tawi-Tawi.
The biggest raids so far were those carried out in this city between 2005 and 2007, where tons of corals and other marine species were seized from several Filipino-Chinese businessmen.
Among those charged were Joe Pring and Vicente Wee Sr., whose warehouses were raided in 2005 and 2007, respectively.
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