The Philippine Navy confirmed reports that there is widespread tanbarking of mangrove trees in some barangays in Balabac, Palawan.
Tanbark is the bark of certain species of tree. It is traditionally used for tanning hides.
Lt. Kiram Sadava, commanding officer of the Philippine Navy said that they have monitored the illegal activities in Brgys. Ramos, Catagupan, Rio Tuba all in Balabac and in Buliluyan in neighboring Bataraza town.
Reports also point that the illegal activities are also happening in Brgys. Melville, Salang, Rabor and Agutayan in the town.
Sadava admitted that it has been one year since they have caught anyone of tanbarking.
“We are intensifying our campaign with the help of the Municipal Marine Resources Office of Balabac but residents still continue the activities,” he added.
Earlier, fish wardens led by the PN, police maritime command, barangay officials and local Bantay Dagat personnel was organized by the municipal government in coordination with the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and the Provincial Agriculture Office.
Balabac is known for its rich marine biodiversity because it is a major migratory passageway for tuna, sea turtles, and marine mammals.
It is also a sanctuary for 27 species of mangrove and 34 associated mangrove species and an entry point to the Sulu Sea from the South China Sea.
Balabac is composed of 31 islands and islets and 20 villages.
However, the municipality is suffering from dwindling marine resources due to cyanide fishing, poaching and the collection of high-value live reef fish that caused the destruction of reefs.