A Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc. official yesterday aired concern over the sale of juvenile Blacktip Reef sharks in southern Negros Occidental, and is calling for local ordinances to, at least, regulate shark fishing.
Dave Albao, executive director of PRRCFI, said that on August 18, eight juvenile Blacktip Reef sharks about half a meter long and aged between 6 months to 2 years old, were again seen being sold at the Sipalay City public market.
The shark meat was being sold at P100 per kilo, he said.
Shark meat is usually cooked with chili and coconut milk, or used as an ingredient for siomai, while its fins are uses for soups, he said.
A restaurant in Bacolod sells a dish called "Linabog na Bagis", he also said.
“We wish to raise awareness on the trade of shark products, so I have been posting photos of different shark species in public markets in southern Negros,” Albao said.
Sharks are critically important to marine ecosystems, and some species, being apex predators, play crucial roles in a healthy ecological balance, Albao said.
“While there is not enough data or scientific studies to declare shark species, like the Blacktip reef sharks, protected by law, we could take the precautionary approach. Our lack of knowledge of species should not prevent us from protecting them,” he said.
“We don't want to act when it's too late, we cannot bring back shark populations if they decrease to a degree that we cannot anymore control or reverse it,” Albao said.
He also said eight sharks species and the manta ray are currently listed in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix II, so fishing for these animals is illegal.
One of the protected shark species is the whale shark, which is now listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), he added.
The Blacktip Reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) is listed as a near-threatened species under the IUCN Red List.
“Cebu has a provincial ordinance banning all shark products. We are planning efforts to lobby for local ordinances in at least regulating shark fishing in our region,” he added.
“A ban has still to be studied, but a first step is to regulate or push for guidelines to ensure sustainable fisheries,” he said.
The PRRCFI manages Danjugan Island, a marine reserve and wildlife sanctuary in Cauayan, Negros Occidental, and is now working on more marine protected areas in the Southern Negros Marine Key Biodiversity Area, he said.
Blacktip Reef sharks abound in Danjugan, he added.*CPG
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