Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has condemned the killing of an endangered species called hammerhead shark that was stranded in the waters off Currimao town in Ilocos Norte.
Cimatu said those behind the killing of the large fish, which was reportedly beaten to death early last week, must be brought to the bar of justice.
“It is unacceptable behavior to hurt living creatures, more so, endangered species,” Cimatu pointed out.
He added: “What they have done is illegal and government will find out the people involved in its capture. I want them prosecuted.”
Hammerhead shark is a globally endangered species that has been seriously overfished, primarily for its fins.
Although it is an aggressive hunter, feeding on smaller fish, octopuses, squid and crustaceans; a hammerhead shark does not actively seek out human prey, but is very defensive and will attack when provoked.
Reports reaching the DENR central office in Quezon City said the shark was caught by a local fisherman, who would sell the meat for human consumption.
The fisherman was reportedly apprehended but was later on released on orders of a barangay official, according to Development Management Officer IV Rosalia Pungtilan of the Laoag Community Environment and Natural Resources Office.
Cimatu said the DENR will closely coordinate with the Department of Agriculture (DA) regarding the incident.
The environment chief said he would ask the DA to initiate administrative charges against the barangay official, who ordered the release of the suspect.
Under the law, the DA’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources or BFAR has jurisdiction over all shark species found within Philippine waters.
The Philippines is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which promotes the protection of commercially exploited sharks, including three hammerhead species: the scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead and smooth hammerhead.
Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act strictly prohibits the hunting, selling and killing of endangered species.
Violators could face a jail term of up to 8 years and a fine ranging from P300,000 to P3 million. (Source: DENR)