DENR initiates whale shark protection in Sarangani Bay

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 12 (DENR-12) is striving to implement strict measures to secure the protection of at least 16 whale sharks or “butandings” that were found in parts of the Sarangani Bay.

DENR-12 Director Nilo Tamoria said Monday they are organizing 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, advised that failure to promptly execute protective measures could bring impending danger to marine life.

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

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 carry out a series of information and education exercises among coastal communities of the Sarangani Bay concerning the presence of the whale sharks.

He said local stakeholders should be conscious 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.

News source: Philippine News Agency

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