P10 million worth of dried stingrays and manta rays were seized by customs
About 2.3 tons or P10 million worth of dried stingrays and manta rays from Cebu were seized by customs officials in Manila, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said on Thursday, October 25. Manta rays and stingrays are considered endangered species.
The illegal cargo was intercepted on board the ship MV Princess of the South, which arrived at the Manila North Harbor Sub-Port on August 12.
According to a BOC statement, customs officials searched the vessel a month later after they discovered it had shipped from Cebu without the required transport clearance from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in violation of Fisheries Administrative Order #193 and Republic Act 8550, also known as the 1998 Philippine Fisheries Code.
BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said that the cargo was consigned to Las Piñas-based company Golden East Marine Export, which was probably intending to sell the illegal marine products outside of the country.
“This seems to be an attempt to smuggle out of the country highly valuable marine products which are considered endangered species by the government,” he explained.
Biazon accused the poachers of depleting the “already dwindling” natural resources of the Philippines and assured the public that the BOC will apply “the maximum penalties provided by law to all those involved in this smuggling attempt.”
Dried gills and meat from stingrays and manta rays — both endangered species, according to the International Union Conservation Nature — can fetch up to US$500/kg especially when sold to Chinese pharmacies, as Chinese traditional medicine believes the meat can cure chicken pox, infertility and cancer. –