In Palawan, the Philippines' last ecological frontier, for example, several groups have been campaigning to stop mining and illegal logging in the area. They have set petitions to advance this cause (see petition 1 here, petition 2 here). President Aquino, in his recent trip to the area to campaign for the Puerto Princesa Underground River to be included as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, has announced a moratorium for new mining applications in Palawan.
Tourism Assistant Secretary Enerio and my colleagues in the DOT went to CARAGA recently, and they have noticed and encountered massive logging in the area. They said that it seems to be that it has been the normal day-to-day activity of some people, or an orchestrated group in the region. Rommel Natanauan explains more in his blog post. He overheard that the truckloads of logs operate with confidence because they can easily pass through check-points due to "bribery," or "pag-aareglo." Sad as it might seem, it's happening right here and right now!
But going back to my main point, it's not only this we are facing, the environment's facing several blows everywhere. The Whale Sharks of Donsol Bicol, Tarsiers of Bohol, and a lot more flora and fauna have to be well taken cared of. This goes true with Sharks, which is the subject of this blog post.
We were strolling in the public market of Puerto Princesa City in search for seafood we can cook, when we spotted this reef shark being sold there. My best friend secretly took a shot of it (see photo below). I was surprised, and angered to see this. We weren't able to ask the market man where he got it or how much he was selling the shark, but I vowed that I have to do something about this...and so this blog is that product. I will have to write Mayor Hagedorn about this incident also.
Sharks have been on this earth for around 400 million years. They are often portrayed as evil and dangerous in most if not all of Hollywood's films - a wrong portrayal if you ask me. In fact, we are not the prey of the sharks. We are just mistaken to be seals or we provoke them through shark-feeding expeditions, Anna Oposa explains. She adds that there are "5-10 fatal shark attacks every year," while on the other hand, we "kill 100 million sharks annually."
"How can you help? First, learn more about sharks and shark finning by watching Sharkwater, the award-winning documentary on sharks." Here's the trailer of the documentary, and it is also uploaded in YouTube. I hope to watch it soon (when Anna finally lends me her copy or burns me one as she promised) :P
I am excited that my friends, Anna Oposa, Chris Ng, Kester Yu, and I are coming up with a project to make Filipinos aware of this serious condition. We will definitely update you guys about this the soonest. If you are in any way interested to help this cause, do not hesitate to contact anyone of us. Promise we don't bite! :))))
For me, it is as simple as not buying and eating Shark's Fin Soup or any related product. It would really help a lot and go a long way.
Also, we must talk and convince our representatives in Congress for this bill (below) to be passed into a law. These are two ways we can help directly. :)
Thanks to Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Atty. Antonio Oposa, Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now Pampanga Representative, filed House Bill No. 174, AN ACT BANNING THE CATCHING, SALE, PURCHASE, POSSESSION, TRANSPORTATION AND EXPORTATION OF ALL SHARKS AND RAYS IN THE COUNTRY AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES, or the Sharks And Rays Conservation Act of 2010 (see the Scribd file below). She received the commendation of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia, and the support of this blogger on the specific issue.
In the Senate, Senator Loren Legarda filed Senate Bill No. 2616 entitled BANNING THE CATCHING, SALE, PURCHASE, IMPORTATION AND EXPORTATION OF ALL SHARKS AND RAYS on November 26, 2010.
The bills' status? Pending with the Committee on Natural Resources since July 27, 2010 in the House, and since December 06, 2010 in the Senate.
It was reported recently in The New York Times that there is a bill recently in California banning the sale and possession of shark fins, including the sale of shark's fin soup. This is not new, as Hawaii, Oregon and Washington State, have the same bills curtailing "shark finning, a brutal, bloody practice of the global trade in which the fins are typically hacked off a live shark, leaving it to die slowly as it sinks to the bottom of the sea," stated in the NYT.
I hope the Philippine government follow, and LEAD as an example. Let's help save the sharks in the Philippine seas! :)
Credits: 2nd Photo (Logging in CARAGA) by Rommel Natanauan and 3rd Photo (Shark in PP Market) by Yuri of Lost Tsinelas.