WWF Lauds Sino Poacher Convictions
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) lauds the recent conviction of 12 Chinese poachers who were responsible for destroying 3902 square meters of coral in April 2013. Tubbataha rangers apprehended the poachers aboard the F/V Min Ping Yu after the steel-hulled vessel ran aground on Tubbataha’s North Atoll. The captain received the maximum penalty of 12 years in prison, while members of his crew were meted out six to 10 year sentences. Each was also fined $100,000.
“It is one thing to create laws to protect our waters from environmental criminals, but another to effectively prosecute them,” says WWF-Philippines Vice-chair and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan. “We commend the Tubbataha rangers and government prosecutors for playing key roles in successfully bringing these poachers to justice.”
Though already convicted for illegal entry into Tubbataha, the 12 poachers still stand trial for carrying the carcasses of 2870 pangolins or scaly anteaters. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) prohibits trade in Asian pangolin species. If the carcasses are determined to be from the Philippines, the poachers can be punished under the Philippine Wildlife Act.
Tubbataha Research Capabilities to be Upgraded
Around two dozen Filipino marine science experts participated in the Tubbataha ecosystem research and monitoring workshop, held from 23 to 24 July at Puerto Princesa. “The workshop was designed to help us reach our research goal of determining ecosystem health, measuring biophysical indicators for management effectiveness and identifying proactive strategies and responses to emerging issues based on sound scientific information,” says Tubbataha Reefs Park Superintendent Angelique Songco.
WWF has been working to protect the Tubbataha Reefs since 1996. Its latest initiative with the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) is the construction of a new Ranger Station, with a built-in research facility for up to eight scientists to conduct onsite marine studies for months at a time.
The station shall utilize green technology such as solar panels, micro-wind turbines, rainwater collectors and vegetable gardens to maximize self-sufficiency and capacity. A helicopter pad will boost rapid reaction capabilities while a library, visitor center and merchandise shop shall entice Park visitors to interact with the rangers, who spend lonely two-month shifts protecting the park from poachers and illegal fisherfolk.
Concludes WWF-Philippines Tubbataha Project Manager Marivel Dygico, “This should dramatically boost our ability to protect and study the area. Barring delays, the soft-launch is slated for the summer of 2015.”
Ms. Marivel Dygico
Tubbataha Reefs Project Manager, WWF-Philippines
Mr. Gregg Yan
Communications and Media Manager, WWF-Philippines
+63917 833 4734
Ms. Glenda Simon
Information, Education and Communications Officer, Tubbataha Management Office (TMO)