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Cebu, Tawi-Tawi team up to protect marine species

Following a meeting between their governors, Cebu and Tawi-Tawi are teaming up to protect and stop the illegal trade of marine species.

Governors Hilario Davide III (Cebu) and Nurbert Sahali (Tawi-Tawi) agreed to join forces against illegal gathering and trading of such species.

“(Let us work together), especially in protecting our seas and marine life,” Davide said, according to a news release posted by the Cebu provincial government Wednesday.

“The sea is very important to us; our living comes from the sea.  Please let us sit down and talk; we have so much to offer but we need people for our linkages,” Sahali added.

Cebu is considered a center of shells and coral trading while Tawi-Tawi is considered the home of such rare marine species.

Sahali relayed to Davide information on the illegal transshipment of corals, shells and even turtles from Tawi-Tawi to Zamboanga and then to Cebu.

He also raised a concern about blasting caps allegedly from Talisay City being shipped to Tawi-Tawi to be used in killing fish.

On the other hand, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Bureau of Fisheries consultant Nur Harun said corals and precious shells may be mined from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Harun said these items appeared to be classified intricately with codes on it, indicating those behind this trade are big-time traders.

Also, he said Cebu remains a portal and warehouse of the smuggled raw shells and corals up until today.

Citing information reaching him, he said dealers bring corals and shells to Zamboanga where they are packed and cleaned.

They are shipped to warehouses in Cebu as raw materials for shell craft, furniture and other products.

From Cebu, they are brought to international destinations or to Manila for international forwarding.

Marine protection

Delegates from Tawi-Tawi also visited Cebu to study Cebu’s initiatives in marine wildlife protection.

They visited Argao, Oslob and Dalaguete towns to learn the province’s initiatives in preserving and protecting the seas. — Joel Locsin/LBG/TJD, GMA News