BFAR-BOC operatives foil live corals bound for Japan

SOME 149 pieces of live corals could have found its way to Japan had it not been for the strict scrutiny undertaken by the joint inspection team of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

BOC Examiner Theresa Go, and BOC Custom Guard Julius Raon, along with BFAR Quarantine Officer Francisco Taborda intercepted the shipment upon discovering the concealment of the live corals underneath each of the boxes of live tropical aquarium fishes last July 12 at around 7:00PM at the Miascor Cargo warehouse in Parañaque.

The shipment of 33 boxes weighing 631 kilos is bound for Fukuoka, Japan via Aseana Airlines flight OZ 704 which is due to leave NAIA at 10:00PM that night.

Live brain corals, particularly the lobed brain coral sells from a low of US$30 to US$80 per polyp depending on the color and size according to one website.

Fisheries Quarantine Officer Ben Curativo revealed that the shipper is a certain Seri International Enterprises of 857 Santiago St., Gatchalian Subdivision, Manuyo II in Las Piñas. The consignee is Media Net Corporation, 2-1-7 Nishi Takasu, Wakamatsu-Ku in Japan .

“The export of live tropical fishes is not illegal, however, corals, whether live or dead is”, stressed BFAR Director Atty. Asis G. Perez.

He said that Sec. 91 of the Philippine Fisheries Code or RA 8550 s. 1998 prohibits any person or corporation to gather, possess, sell or export ordinary, precious and semi-precious corals whether in raw or in processed form.

Perez stressed that the BFAR would remain steadfast on its campaign to curb the trading of all prohibited and/or threatened and endangered species of fish and other aquatic organisms to ensure its conservation and protection.

Despite the interception of two consecutive shipments in a barely a weeks’ period, Perez is optimistic that the industry would eventually rid itself of illegal activities.

The export of corals carries with it an imprisonment from six months to two (2) years and a fine from two thousand pesos (P2,000.00) to twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court and forfeiture of the subject corals, including the vessel and its proper disposition.

Earlier, a total of 46 boxes containing elvers or the young of eels which had been banned by the agency were also intercepted by the joint inspection team of BOC and BFAR at the same cargo warehouse.

According to RA 8550, the seized corals shall either be returned to the sea or donated to schools and museums for educational and scientific purposes or disposed through other means.

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