A lawmaker has proposed an increase in penalties to help curb the illegal trade and exploitation of corals and other marine species in the country.
Las Piñas Representative Mark Villar has filed House Bill 2819 which seeks to amend the Philippine Fisheries Code and impose heavier fines of from P100,000 to P500,000 on those caught participating in the illegal marine trade.
He said the current law, which imposes imprisonment of six months to two years and a fine ranging from P2,000 to P20,000 for gathering, possessing, selling, and exporting corals for profit, is too lenient.
“We must act now to protect the country’s precious corals and other marine wealth before they are lost forever,” Villar said.
The bill also prohibits the gathering of endangered species as well as the export of cultured or artificially-propagated species that have been transplanted from their natural habitat without government approval.
"The taking, catching, gathering, possession or trade of artificially propagated and cultured species listed in the CITES, IUCN and RA 9147 may be allowed subject to rules and regulations promulgated by the Department of Agriculture," Villar said.
The proposed ban covers species listed in the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, the Wildlife Act, and in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Endangered Species. — Patricia Denise Chiu/JDS, GMA News