GMA Moves to Protect Whale Sharks

Manila Bulletin, April 3, 2010 | Go to article overview

GMA Moves to Protect Whale Sharks


Concerned by the attacks on whale sharks in the country's waters, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has mobilized government forces to reinforce measures to conserve and protect the gentle sea giants from extinction.In Administrative Order No. 282, authorities were allowed to impose penalties to persons harming or killing a whale shark, locally known as “butanding,” and grant rewards to those who protect or rescue any wounded filter-feeding shark.The President also released P15 million from her social fund to support capacity-building and monitoring and enforcement activities of the local government units and national government agencies in the protection  of whale sharks, considered as the world's largest fish measuring 40 feet or more."The whale sharks that thrive in Philippine waters continue to be threatened and killed despite existing legal measures for their protection," the order read.AO 282 stated that the killing of a whale shark last February 15 in Tingloy, Batangas was a "direct affront" to the government as host of the meeting of experts that crafted the Conservation Plan for Migratory Sharks. The Philippines is also signatory to an agreement to achieve and maintain a favorable conservation status for migratory sharks based on best available studies."The need to further intensify international and national protection efforts to conserve the species and to sustain the ecotourism development in certain coastal communities in the country has become manifest," the order read.In AO 282, the President directed the Philippine Navy, the Coast Guard, Philippine National Police Maritime Command, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and concerned local government units to coordinate with academe and marine fisheries expert to locate, monitor, and protect the whale sharks' pathways in Philippine waters. …

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