MANILA (PNA) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group seized two vessels, including a Chinese vessel loading more than 800 turtles in the disputed South China Sea or Halfmoon Shoal in Palawan.
In a text message sent to Philippines News Agency, Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP information chief, said that a Maritime Police Patrol apprehended two vessels at around 7:00 a.m. Tuesday off Half Moon Shoal.
Sindac said one of the captured vessels is a local boat with five Muslim passengers carrying more or less 40 turtles.
Aboard the local boat were Captain Romantic Banto Amlain and four personnel. Some 70 live turtles were in their possession when apprehended.
The other is a Chinese boat with 11 passengers carrying more or less 500 turtles.
The Chinese vessel was boarded by Captain Chen Hi Quan with 10 Chinese personnel and carrying 120 live turtles and 234 dead turtles.
Sea turtles are considered endemic and are protected under Philippine laws.
Maritime police are now towing the boats to Puerto Princesa where appropriate charges will be filed against them.
Half Moon Shoal is within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone and near to Second Thomas Shoal, where a small Philippine military detachment is based. (PNA) LGI/CLTC