Over 300 kilos of slaughtered manta rays were recovered from two fishing boats in the vicinity waters of Labason in Zamboanga del Norte during the conduct on April 18 of Oplan Kurantay by the protection and law enforcement group of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources 9 (DA-BFAR ) and other line agencies.
In a post on social media by BFAR IX on April 23 , it said that during a patrol operation of the Fisheries Protection and Law Enforcement Group Team Zamboanga Del Norte together with personnel of the PNP-Maritime Group and the Municipal Agriculturist Office (MAO) of Labason, they intercepted commercial fishing boats Ron Ron and Lionel James while operating in the vicinity of Labason and witnessed some crewmembers slaughtering manta rays.
“The fishery enforcers also saw them throwing manta ray meat overboard in an attempt to hide their crime,” the report said. Confiscated from the crew of Ron Ron were 15 kilos of manta ray and 300 kilos from Lionel James.
The post said the vessels’ crewmen were supposed to dock and unload their catch in Barangay Malintubuan in Labason.
The boat captains and the owners were issued notices of violation for failing to comply with Section 102 of Republic Act 8550 as amended by Republic Act 10654 for fishing or taking of rare, threatened or endangered species.
BFAR IX said as listed in the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), Appendix II, Manta rays (Mobula sp.) belongs to a group of species associated with significant unregulated, unsustainable fishing pressures, and severe population depletion.
The said slaughtered endangered aquatic species had been turned over to the BJMP-Liloy District Jail for proper disposition as assisted by the Labason Municipal Police Station (MPS).
DA-BFAR IX warns the public that it is unlawful to fish or take, catch, gather, sell, purchase, possess, transport, export, forward or ship out aquatic species listed in Appendix II of the CITES. The offender may suffer an administrative penalty of ₱300,000 to ₱3,000,000 and/or upon conviction by a court of law, punished by imprisonment of five to eight years plus twice the administrative fine.