Nanguha ng kabebe! Sagay police arrest fishermen

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Police in Sagay City in Negros Occidental province arrested three fishermen after seizing from them endangered giant clams.

Arrested were Felix Causapin, 60; Lito Cañete, 49; and Adan Atabelo, 54, all residents of Barangay Molocaboc in Sagay City.

Recovered from them were 127 giant clams locally known as “manlot.”

Sagay City police chief Police Maj. Antonio Benitez Jr. said they found the clams after serving a search warrant against the three.

Participating in the search were officials from the Negros Occidental Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), Task Force Lawod, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Judge Joanne Fraces Nifras of the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities in Cadiz City signed the search warrant dated April 3.

The search warrant was issued for violation of Republic Act 10654 or “An act to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.”

Under the law, offenders face a fine equivalent to five times the value of the species or P500,000 to P5,000,000; and imprisonment of 12 to 20 years and a fine equivalent to twice the administrative fine; forfeiture of the species; and cancellation of fishing permit.

Sagay Marine Reserve Resource Assessment Head Jose Roberto Togle said they received a report from concerned citizens that the three were hoarding the clams since February.

He said three were allegedly contracted by an anonymous buyer who offered to buy the clams at P1,000 per kilo.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature identified the Giant Clams as vulnerable species and facing high risk of extinction in the wild.