DENR Pushes Whale Shark Protection In Sarangani Bay

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 12 (DENR-12) is pushing for stringent measures to ensure the protection of at least 16 whale sharks or "butandings" that have been spotted in parts of the Sarangani Bay.

DENR-12 Director Nilo Tamoria said Monday they are coordinating with various stakeholders for the adoption of proper conservation and protection measures for the whale sharks (Rhincodon typus).

?This is an urgent concern because we need to ascertain that these whale sharks should be protected while they are still in our area," Tamoria said.

Tamoria, who met here on Saturday with members of the newly-activated Task Force Butanding-GenSan, warned that failure to immediately implement protective measures could bring imminent danger to marine life.

Members of the task force, spearheaded by the city government, conducted another observation of the whale sharks last Saturday aboard the DENR-12 monitoring vessel.

The task force is composed of personnel from the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, City Tourism Council, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Tourism, Philippine Coast Guard, Protected Area Management Board, Sarangani Environmental Conservation and Protection Center, DENR and the coastal barangays.

Since January, Tamoria said the task force discovered and documented 14 new whale sharks, specifically spotted surface-feeding in the waters off Purok Silway here and in Kiamba, Sarangani.

These were officially tagged as P1597, P1598, P1599, P1601, P1603, P1604, P1605, P1606, P1607, P1608, P1609, P1614, P1615, and P1616.

In 2014, two whale sharks, tagged as P640 and P641, were documented off the coasts of this city, making their current total count to 16.

The latest documentation was already forwarded by the task force to Large Marine Vertebrates or LAMAVE Research Institute Philippines for individual identification.

Tamoria said the agency, in coordination with the task force, will conduct a series of information and education activities among coastal communities of the Sarangani Bay regarding the presence of the whale sharks.

He said local stakeholders should be aware of the prohibited acts as stipulated in Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, which prohibits the maltreatment or killing of endangered species like the whale shark.

Violators may face a fine of as much as P1 million and imprisonment of up to 12 years.

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