Philippine Navy’s Jose Andrada-class coastal patrol boat BRP Carlos Albert (PC-375) apprehended 2 Vietnamese fishing vessels caught poaching off the waters of Mangsee, Palawan on May 19, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command (WESCOM) said. Each Vietnamese fishing vessel has 10 crew.
According to media reports, 60 assorted species of endangered sharks and manta rays were found on board.
“There were 13 hammerhead sharks in their fishing vessel which is a highly protected species. So aside from illegal entry, they will be charged for poaching. There are actually three vessels but the other one was left in Mangsee as it could not run, and the others managed to get away,” Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) field officer Mario Basaya said.
Aside from the hammerheads, also seized were more than 20 different species of manta rays, 16 black tip, and 20 white tip sharks. They also found shark fins being dried.
“We will have to verify these figures because the way we look at it, there are so many,” he said.
Rene Sabio, the interpreter for the Vietnamese, said they are residents of a coastal village just a kilometer away from Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam.
He said the men were hired by a Malaysian businessman to work as the fishing vessel’s crew.
“They said it is their first time to work for the Malaysian fishing company, and they just want to earn a living. They did not know that they have already entered the Philippine territory as it was only their second day when the Philippine Navy caught them,” said Sabio.
Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) Enforcement Unit officer Michelle Sabuya said the 20 Vietnamese fishermen were scheduled to be brought to the Palawan Prosecutor’s Office for inquest.
Sources: https://www.facebook.com/wescom/posts/1062100813922079; http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1036054