BFAR-Central Visayas destroys dried seahorses

AUTHORITIES burned dried seahorses -- valued at P1.7 million -- that were seized in three separate operations in 2019.

On one occasion, authorities caught two Chinese nationals, who were about to board a flight bound for Macau carrying dried seahorses, a violation under Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation Act, which prohibits killing and trading of endangered species.

The dried seahorses that were destroyed by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Central Visayas on Thursday, January 9, 2020, weighed 59 kilos. A kilo of dried horse is reportedly sold at P30,000. The personnel of the Office for Transportation of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and the Bureau of Customs joined in the activity.

Vulnerable species

The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed nine seahorse species as vulnerable and one as endangered.

“Aquarium trade and use for traditional Chinese medicine are the two main uses of a seahorse. At least 77 countries are involved in the trade, making international regulations necessary to ensure the protection of seahorses,” according to the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).

The ICTSD reported in its website that “seahorses became the first commercially valuable marine genus to be protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites)” in 2004.

The Cites regulations for seahorses were “approved in November 2002 but delayed for 18 months to allow countries time to put in place enforcement policies,” the ICTSD reported.

BFAR-Central Visayas Director Alfeo Piloton said they had filed complaints against the persons, including the two Chinese nationals, for violating RA 9147.

The Chinese nationals, however, were charged with an administrative complaint at the BFAR-Central Visayas and each paid a fine of P15,000.

After paying the fines, the Chinese nationals flew back to their home country, said Piloton. (HBL/KAL)