By Barbara Mae Dacanay
Twelve Chinese nationals were arrested and their fishing vessel impounded, for alleged poaching including damage to a marine park where it ran aground in southwestern Philippines before midnight Monday, a senior official said. “The illegal entry of the 12 Chinese fishermen at the Tubbataha Reef is a prima facie evidence for poaching. Although only dried fish and fishing nets were taken from them, we’re assuming they wanted to fish even if they were arrested without a catch,” said Angelique Songco, manager of the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO).
If convicted, they would be fined $100,000 judicial fee, and $50,000 to $200,000 administrative fine,” said Songco, adding the amount does not yet include a fine for damaging reefs, estimated at $300 per square metre for damages, and additional $300 per square metre for rehabilitation of the damaged areas.
The local government unit where the arrested Chinese nationals come from is also liable for a fine for the damage inflicted on the Tubbataha Reef, said Songco.