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Several sacks of endangered seashells aboard a fishing vessel were intercepted and seized off Cebu province last July 9, the Coast Guard said Monday.
The Philippine Coast Guard said the fishing vessel was intercepted off Olango Island in Lapu-Lapu City.
It said Coast Guard personnel were part of a joint operation with the Navy, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Bureau of Customs.
Operatives had acted on intelligence information indicating a blue fishing boat was allegedly loaded with imported cooking oil from Malaysia.
When a composite government team went to the site to verify the information, its members saw the fishing banca "Jocevel Joy 4" anchored in the area.
Team members boarded and inspected the vessel and failed to find the cooking oil but saw 138 sacks of shells in the vessel's storage area.
BFAR Region 7 identified the shells as Trochus niloticus or “samong,” which are considered endangered. Their harvest for commercial purpose is banned.
Following the discovery, the Coast Guard vessel DF 318 towed the fishing banca to Ouano Wharf in Mandaue City for further investigation.
Coast Guard Special Operations Unit personnel in Cebu were instructed to post security personnel aboard the fishing banca.
Meanwhile, the endangered shells were turned over to the Coast Guard Mandaue substation and will be brought to BFAR for inventory.
Investigation showed the "Jocelyn Joy 4" is skippered by Paulino Benanel and owned and operated by Jovelito Benanel of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. —Joel Locsin/KG, GMA News