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PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines – A Malaysian-registered fishing vessel with 20 Vietnamese crewmembers and carrying over 50 pieces of sharks and rays was caught off Mangsee Island in Balabac town on Saturday morning, May 19.
Mario Basaya, Palawan field officer of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said on Tuesday, May 22 that the apprehended fishers face poaching and illegal entry charges, in violation of the Philippines’ Wildlife Act and Fisheries Code.
The vessel along with its crew was apprehended by a Philippine Navy patrol craft 32 nautical miles southeast of Mangsee Island, Balabac, which sits near Malaysia. They arrived in Puerto Princesa City on Monday, May 21, for proper disposition and inquest.
“There are actually 3 vessels but the other one was left in Mangsee as it could not run, and the other one managed to get away,” Basaya said.
After speaking to 42-year old boat captain Vo Qouc Phong, Vietnamese interpreter Rene Sabio relayed that the crew were hired by a Malaysian businessman.
“They did not know that they have already entered the Philippine territory when the Philippine Navy caught them,” Sabio said.
Sabio added that the dead sharks and rays were hauled in just a week at the boundary of the Philippines and Malaysia.
The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff Enforcement Team filed the cases against the alleged poachers 5 p.m. at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
Last year, Vietnamese poachers were caught with a boatload of 70 slaughtered sharks off Palawan. – Rappler.com