Shark defenders form lobby group

Shark defenders form lobby group

SAN PEDRO CITY — A pregnant blacktip reef shark that Batangas divers and conservationists said was most likely captured and finned brought to the fore a call to strengthen marine life protection.

Vince Cinches of the Save Sharks Network Philippines (SSNP) said his group would talk to political parties on May 2 to seek the commitment of senatorial hopefuls in legislating the Philippine Shark Conservation Bill.

As with the recent case of the shark killed in Batangas, “unregulated fishing is killing our seas because most shark species are apex predators,” Cinches said on Sunday.

Unregulated trade

He said shark fin trade in the Philippines continues, however “highly unregulated,” which is why they could not ascertain the volume of fins being taken out.

Shark fins are usually used to make soup—a Chinese delicacy.

Environmentalists have been calling out the “cruel” process of slicing off the fins and discarding the shark to die eventually underwater.

“This what we are trying to address,” Cinches said.

Cinches was asked to comment on photos of the blacktip that divers found dead near Twin Rocks, a popular dive site and protected area in Barangay Anilao, Mabini, Batangas, during the Lenten week.

Diver Mark Genuino on Friday found the 4-foot-long carcass at a depth of 19 meters, with a “line” still attached to its tail and its dorsal fin missing.

The next day, another diver and underwater photographer, Jorge Ida, found the shark but pushed down deeper to 21 meters by the strong current.

Ida, this time, saw at least five dead pups around the adult shark.

Veterinarian Marco Espiritu of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon said the shark must have only drifted into that part of the Balayan Bay.

When shown the photos, Espiritu said it was already in the “moderate to advanced” stage of decomposition and may have been dead for “a few days to a week.”

“Looks like human inflicted,” Espiritu said, noting that even at decomposition, the shark’s fin would not detach in such a way.

The pups that later came out of the carcass also means the shark was pregnant when captured.

4th in shark diversity

The Philippines ranks fourth globally in terms of shark biodiversity as it hosts about 200 species of sharks, rays and chimaeras.

However, present laws only provide for the protection of 21 shark species.

In February, the Congress approved and transmitted to the Senate the Shark Conservation Bill that is meant to put in place tighter measures in line with the SSNP’s 2020 Conservation Roadmap.