Sunday, September 4, 2016

Who Decides Which Species Deserve the Right to Survive and Thrive?

Wazzup Pilipinas!

During these times of extreme global warming, the preservation of marine ecology should be of utmost importance. The rich marine life has provided food for many people for the past centuries and has allowed us to live the way we do. Over-fishing and predatory decimation of ocean species by humans is a deplorable and irresponsible practice. What does it take to act on protecting marine life and not wait for an ecological collapse? 

Shark populations in the world's ocean's are the barometer by which life as we know it now sadly stands. In decline. Scientifically, sharks are at the top of food chain and they maintain a good balance of the populations of other fishes in the marine ecosystem. Take them out and you'll eventually cause an ecological imbalance. Every extinction of a species results to a damaging disturbance in life as we know it. 

The Philippines' marine biodiversity is one of our most precious resources that we must protect. Not too many countries can boast of having the same. Marine conservationists have been calling on the international community to include Thresher sharks in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) this coming September. CITES, an international agreement between governments, aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Though Daanbantayan has declared its municipal waters as a protected area through an executive order of Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro specifically declaring Monad shoal and Gato islet a shark and ray sanctuary last June 2015, the Thresher shark population continues to be hunted, fished, and traded at other locations in the country. This will eventually cause the rest of the marine eco-system to be destabilized and potentially collapse. Shark finning should be recognized as a barbaric practice and should no longer exist except as an ugly footnote in history books. These Thresher sharks need to be protected to ensure a healthy balance in our oceans.

If we continue to purge the oceans of the Thresher sharks, this would disturb the marine ecology of the country, bringing forth unforeseeable consequences in our way of living. Please take a stand regarding this. Protect this species and support its listing on CITES to stop the international trade of its fins and meat. 

Please take note that the Thresher sharks are worth far more alive to the local economy than dead. A Thresher alive supports Filipinos through tourism income throughout its lifetime, a Thresher dead makes only ~$2 from meat. Sharks also put human consumers of shark meat and fins at a health risk. Since sharks are predators, living higher up in the food web, their tissues tend to accumulate and concentrate toxins. It makes no sense to continue to treat these sharks as a food commodity. 

"A pound of shark meat sells for only Php 50 in the market (although their fins fetch much higher when exported to HK and Taiwan for shark's fin soup) while a live one generates millions in revenue through ecotourism, like in Malapascua. In the Philippines, the heart of the coral triangle, only the Oceanic Manta (Manta birostris) and Whale shark (Rhicodon typus) are protected."

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has to acknowledge that the Filipino people will also greatly benefit if Thresher sharks are protected in the Philippines. The government should have an intensive campaign to stop the fishing of these species. 

Atty. Chad Estela of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources office of Cebu said, “It is the logical obligation of the Philippines to call on the world to include thresher sharks in the Appendix II as we are the only country in the world that can boast to having an established thresher shark dive tourism industry. Scuba divers at Monad Shoal off the coast of Malapascua Island, Daanbantayan can see these sharks in the early morning hours, almost everyday.”

"This September 24 through October 5, we will have an opportunity to protect the Thresher as well through trade regulation. The Conference of Parties (CoP) 17 in Johannesburg, South Africa seeks to include three species of thresher sharks in the Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). For that to happen however, our delegation headed by BFAR and DENR, has to vote yes. If they do and this passes, all trade of Thresher sharks will be required to be sustainable in nature."

Tourists visit Malapascua Island of Cebu to experience scuba diving at the "cleaning station" located at Monad shoal to witness the beauty of the pelagic Tresher sharks as they get cleaned by cleaner and moon wrasses.  You'll be smitten with these unbelievably graceful creatures with their sweet, dark-eyed faces. These majestic creatures, distinguished by their white mottled abdomen and relatively small eyes, don't deserve the brutal hand of human devastation. 

Contrary to what others believe, they are absolutely not life-threatening. They are the ones who are being threatened. Trading of Thresher sharks must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.

To learn more about Thresher Sharks, you may visit and watch the videos located at
Let the Philippines be a conservation leader in Asia as it was for the whale sharks and the manta ray. Continue to give the tourists a reason to keep coming back to the Philippines. Let's do everything to guarantee that Thresher sharks not only survive, but thrive. 

You may also want to do the same so that we can encourage more to participate in this movement that aims to keep our marine eco-system intact.


More information can be found here:
Save Thresher Tala

CITES Proposal

IUCN says Yes

Their Future Our Future

Thresher sharks in the PH (press coverage)

All photos taken by Noel Guevara in Monad Shoal, Malapascua.

#SaveThresherTala #StoptheThresherHunt #PHsayYes

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