By Cory Martinez
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has urged the Philippine National Police to investigate the recent confiscation of endangered marine species called helmet shells in Jolo, Sulu.
The call was made after some 106 boxes of helmet shells, a large endangered marine species of the Cassidae family, were seized at a Chinese pier in Jolo, Sulu by the BFAR and the PNP.
Sulu PNP Director Senior Supt. Abraham Orbita said in a report to BFAR Director Asis Perez, the boxes of helmet shells whose owner was identified as 60-year-old Peralta Pula were bound for Cebu and Manila.
BFAR reported that initial inventory showed each box contained 15 to 23 pieces of helmet shells in varying sizes.
Sulu Fishery Officer Maciano Damih said the total value of the intercepted cargo will only be determined once the inventory has been completed.
Helmet shells, locally known as “budyong,” is characterized by a narrow opening and a horny lid-shaped open fan and mostly found on sandy beaches of the open coast from shallow to deeper water. They are sold to the black market mainly for their ornamental value.
Gathering, selling and owning of “budyong” and other endangered shell species are prohibited under the Philippine Fisheries Code.