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Protected Marine Species Seized as Philippines' Police Raid Warehouse
by Bong Garcia
April 7, 2007 15:21 EST

ZAMBOANGA, The Philippines -- Combined government operatives have seized large quantities of banned shell products and dried sea horse that could worth millions of pesos in a raid in this city.

The confiscation was made last Thursday at Lian Huat Trading Warehouse located in Magay, this city, according to Naval Forces Western Mindanao chief Emilio Marayag, Jr.

Marayag was designated last month as Deputized Environment and Natural Resources Officer (Denro) by Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes.

He said the confiscation was made in line with the enforcement of several statutes like Section 97 of the Republic Act 8550, which provides that it shall be unlawful to fish or take rare, threatened or endangered species as listed in the convention on International Trade of endangered species (Cites).

He said the confiscation is also in line with the Fisheries Administrative Order Number 208 Series of 2001, which states "it shall be unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, to take or catch or cause to be taken the specified fishery/aquatic shell species."

Philippine Wildlife Act also prohibits the taking of sea turtles, as the species is recognized as endangered in the Philippines, according to Marayag.

He also cited the DENR Memo Order Number 06 in conjunction with DENR Administrative Order Number 48, which disallows exploitation activities related to marine turtles.

Among the items confiscated on the strength of a search warrant are banned shell products, dried carapace of sea turtles and dried sea horse.

Marayag said proper charges will be filed against the owners of the warehouse identified as Olivia Li and Tomas Lim.

He said the seized items are now under the custody of the National Bureau Investigation (NBI) regional office in this city.

Aside from the Navy and NBI, the raid was carried out together with personnel from the Task Force Zamboanga, Police Regional Office and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar).

After he was deputized as Denro, Marayag has initiated inter-agency consultation to encourage active participation by the different government agencies to detect, prevent and suppress violations of marine environmental laws in order to preserve and protect the environment.

The raid and confiscated of the banned marine products was the first that was made after Marayag was named Denro by Reyes.