MANILA - The governments of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam have pledged to enhance cooperation in the regional crackdown on the illegal trade in marine turtles taken from the rich waters of the Coral Triangle.
The commitment was made in a marine turtle trade workshop hosted by the Philippine government on June 3-4, according to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines.
“With the ongoing issue of poaching of marine turtles, the country recognises the need for an integrated approach in addressing this challenge,” Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said.
“The alarming trend over the past decade justifies the need for neighbouring countries to make trans-boundary arrangements and improve the protection of turtles between governments,” Lim said in a WWF news release.
“Entire populations of turtles are being wiped out by persistent poaching, both targeted and as by-catch,” Joel Palma, WWF-Philippines vice president for conservation, said.
“As foreign fishing fleets are often involved, such intergovernmental collaboration is essential to strengthen local and trans-boundary law enforcement to prevent marine turtles from being poached and traded for use as food and luxury items,” Palma added.
The workshop came on the heels of an incident last month where Philippine authorities arrested Chinese fishermen off the coast of Palawan who had around 500 live and dead turtles in their boat.
The involvement of local fishermen in the incident “suggests a higher degree of organised supply and trafficking that requires a transnational response,” WWF-Philippines said.
The group said it was just one of several poaching and trafficking incidents that happened not only in the Philippines but also in the important marine turtle range countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam and across the wider Coral Triangle region.