ORMOC CITY – The Fishery Coastal and Aquatic Resources Management Division (FCARMD) of the City Agriculture Department (CAD) here has seized three (3) endangered giant clams, also known as “Takubo” with the scientific name of Tridacna Squamosa, at this city’s port on Tuesday, June 11, 2024.

The giant clams, accordingly, were supposed to be shipped to Cebu through a fastcraft, but the shipment was halted due to the discovery of said clams by authorities with the FCARMD quickly responding to the situation, led by its division head, Irish Belmonte, and discovering that the reported giant clams were still alive.

Thus, in order to save the clams, a seeding operation was carried out in the Fish Sanctuary of Barangay Ipil of this city by the FCARMD personnel who included Belmonte, a marine biologist, together with her counterpart Jamie Sioc, patrol boat operator Dante Romero, and two members of the Bantay Dagat.

Accordingly, the owner of the giant clams fled after being informed by the quarantine officer, Michael Vasquez, that possession and transportation of the clams were prohibited; and FCARMD firmly stands by its commitment to protect marine wildlife species.

The FCARMD reiterated to the public that fishing or taking of rare, threatened, or endangered species is illegal under Republic Act 10654, Section 102, and the Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) No. 208.

The sad FAO prohibits the fishing, capture, collection, sale, purchase, possession, transport, export, or shipment of aquatic species listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), or those classified as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and determined as such by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). If found liable, the offender could be penalized with a fine three (3) times the value of the species, or PHP300,000.00 to PHP3,000,000.00, and imprisoned for five to eight years.

Finally, FCARMD strongly advises the public to notify their local agriculture and fisheries offices of any observations and/or collections of rare, endangered, and threatened species. By Gwen Maurillo (EV Mail June 10-16, 2024 issue)