A Philippine Navy (PN) frigate apprehended a Vietnamese fishing vessel with 10 crewmen and around 70 pieces of slaughtered unidentified shark species in the territorial waters of northern Palawan, Tuesday.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-MIMAROPA OIC Regional Director Elizer Salilig said late Wednesday afternoon that Vietnamese vessel Hoa Huong was apprehended by the PN frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15) at 9:48 a.m. 20 nautical miles off the Malampaya platform and 32 nautical miles off Tapiutan Island, Bacuit Bay in the town of El Nido.
Currently in the said town with teams from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and other concerned agencies, Salilig said the Vietnamese crewmen are now under custody of the navy.
The foreign vessel’s shark hoard, on the other hand, is still being inventoried, according to Salilig.
PCSD Spokesperson Jovic Fabello told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) also late Wednesday afternoon that poaching charges are likely to be filed against the Vietnamese fishermen in violation of Section 87 of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 or Republic Act 8550.
According to the law, it is unlawful for any foreign person, corporation or entity to fish or operate any fishing vessel in Philippine waters.
Any entry shall constitute a prima facie evidence that the vessel is engaged in fishing within the country’s territorial waters.
“The protection of sharks, especially if they are rare or threatened species, has an extra layer because of their important role in the marine ecosystem. Most likely, cases of poaching will be filed against them,” he said, adding the names of the foreign fishermen are not yet available.
Meanwhile, a Navy spot report obtained by the PNA disclosed that the Vietnamese fishermen tried to evade being pursued, and that the captain knew they were in Philippine waters.
The spot report furthered that the Vietnamese fishers have been in the area where they were apprehended since August 1.