Eight Vietnamese fishermen poaching for sharks off Mangsee Island, Balabac in southern Palawan were apprehended Thursday by a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Parola-class patrol vessel.
Coast Guard District Palawan (CGDP) spokesperson Lt. Commander Christian Jazmin said that the foreign fishing vessel with bow number TG-924114 was apprehended 38 nautical miles east off Mangsee, an island on the southernmost tip of the province.
He said their apprehension was due to an intelligence report regarding their presence inside Philippine territorial waters in Palawan.
“Noong September 25, nagkaroon tayo ng intelligence report na merong suspected poachers dyan sa may southern part ng Palawan. Sa pamumuno ni Commodore Allen Toribio, nag-dispatch siya ng isang vessel papunta doon sa area, ‘yong MRRV-4407 sa pamumuni ni Commander Joselito Maluyo papunta doon sa area at noong September 26 ng umaga nakakita sila ng kahina-hinalang barko doon sa may Mangsee,” Jazmin said.
Personnel of BRP Sindangan who conducted boarding procedures found dead sharks on the vessel, as well as dried skins and bones.
Jazmin said that during the chase, the Vietnamese fishermen were also seen throwing some of their catch into the water supposedly to trick the PCG that they only have a few in their possession.
“Noong hot pursuit, tinatapon ng mga Vietnamese ‘yong mga huli nila na freshly catch na isda at sharks. Naabutan nila na hinahango pa nila ‘yong lambat at ‘yong iba iniwan na,” he said.
“Sa kasalukuyan in-inventory pa ‘yong laman ng fishing vessel, initially may nakita na mga dried na shark. Marami po ‘yon,” Jazmin added.
As of press time, Jazmin said they are waiting for personnel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to identify the shark species.
The Vietnamese nationals were subjected to a medical examination by the CGDP. They will be under their custody until poaching charges are filed. (with a report from Jayra Joyce Taboada)