|A seizure of 101 hawksbill turtles in 2008|
The Filipino government has recently sentenced a group of thirteen Vietnamese sea turtles to 6-18 months behind bars, and fined them. The 13-man crew was arrested two years ago when their boat was intercepted by two Filipino gunboats five miles east of Cabaluan Island near El Nido. The suspects attempted to slip past by flooding the holds, but were prevented by the enforcers. Inside their cargo's vessel, authorities uncovered 101 corpses of drowned hawksbill turtles. The Philippine Islands had suffered similar incidents in the last few years. One incident occurred in September 2007 when 126 green turtles and 10,000 eggs were discovered aboard a Chinese vessel in Sulu. In April 2008, a team of 23 Vietnamese men were arrested in Balabac in southern Palawan after authorities confiscated assorted fish and a sea turtle. That same year in July, four Vietnamese men were arrested for poaching in El Nido. The most recent incident occurred in April 2009 when seven Chinese poachers were arrested near the Cauayan Isle in El Nido. Authorities found thirteen dead green turtles aboard the perpetrators' speedboat with one survivor.
According to RJ del Calzada, manager of WWF-Philippines Palawan Project and auxiliary commander for the Philippine Coast Guard, the recent sentence of the thirteen poachers will be a reminder to any cases in the future, as well as a warning to those who continue to exploit Philippines' marine resources. Lory Tan, WWF-Philippines CEO and Vice Chairwoman, promised that environmental criminals of any race will be held on full accounts for destroying any components of the native environment. These are some of the statements which makes me feel that the Filipino government will take strong measures in protecting its native marine wildlife. I also think that based on numerous incidents that occurred in past few years, the government has learned very well how these poachers are continuing to ravage the marine environment and will be tightening its borders to ensure protection for the native species.
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