A manta ray almost the size of a small car was seized by Philippine Coastguard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) personnel on Thursday afternoon in Baclayon.
According to Ens. Eric Salcedo, PCG deputy commander, illegal fishers tried to slip the chopped up manta ray weighing over 1 ton or almost 1,000 kilos into Pamilacan.
Salcedo said that they received a tip from a concerned citizen indicating that manta ray meat was being unloaded from a vehicle and transferred to a pumpboat at around 4:00 p.m.
The PCG which coordinated with the BFAR responded to the report and was able to take the suspects into custody who were at Balwarte in Barangay Poblacion, Baclayon.
There, the authorities found Milagros Valeroso who was coordinating the transfer of the manta ray meat.
According to Salcedo, Valeroso identified one Tita Oclaret of Jagna as the owner of the manta ray meat.
For his part, BFAR official Pedro Millana Jr. said that manta rays are classified as endangered species and the government prohibits their hunting, trading, transporting or possession by virtue of Republic Act 9147.
Violation of the RA is punishable with imprisonment from five to 25 years and/or a fine from P500 to P5000, said Millana. (W. Maestrado)