Endangered ‘Thresher Shark’ Being Sold in Bohol Shocks Panglao-based Netizens

Endangered Shark Spotted in Bohol Market

When Chief Executive Officer of Philippine Fun Divers, Inc. Holger W. Horn passed by Dao Market beside ICM Mall in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, he saw a Thresher Shark being sold in one of the stalls. Horn, an American diver based in Panglao, Bohol, wasn’t at all pleased with what he saw, and immediately posted photos of the dead endangered shark being mercilessly sold in the market on his Facebook timeline.

Helger W Horn Facebook Status
Helger W Horn Facebook Status

“Basically all sharks are on the endangered species list and this Thresher Shark is no [diferent]. It was spotted at the market opposite or beside ICM in Tagbilaran City,” Horn’s Facebook post read.

In the same post, Horn pointed out the existing Provincial Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ordinance of Cebu, and urged Bohol’s local government to “jump into the footsteps of Cebu.”

Shark for sale in Bohol
Shark for sale in Bohol

There haven’t been any reported actions of the government regarding the matter as of now, but with Republic Act 8550 or The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 which states that it is “unlawful to take, catch, gather, sell, purchase, possess, transport, export, forward, or ship out rare, threatened, or endangered species,3” and with the Horn’s viral post, there’s no telling what awaits the law-breaching Bohol vendors.

Tresher Shark being sold in Bohol Public Market
Tresher Shark being sold in Bohol Public Market

The Thresher Shark, a treasured shark

The Thresher Shark (Alopias pelagicus) being sold in the Bohol market has been considered a “vulnerable (VU)”shark species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List since 2004. In IUCN’s stages of endangerment, the label “vulnerable (VU)” is just three stages before total “extinction (EX)”, making the Thresher Shark found in Bohol by Horn a controversial matter.

“All members of genus Alopias, the thresher sharks, are listed as Vulnerable globally because of their declining populations. These downward trends are the result of a combination of slow life history characteristics, hence low capacity to recover from moderate levels of exploitation, and high levels of largely unmanaged and unreported mortality in target and bycatch fisheries” IUCN’s Red List assessment of the Thresher Shark reads.

One of the most striking features of the Thresher Shark is its long dorsal tail, and it is also for this very reason why the shark is being farmed. The fin, which is approximately the length of its body, is considered a “delicacy” by most countries, and the shark’s liver and skins are also being used for medicinal and fashion purposes6, respectively.

Thresher Shark (Alopias pelagicus) being sold in the Bohol market
Thresher Shark (Alopias pelagicus) being sold in the Bohol market

One report6 in 2002 claimed that about 80% of the global population of the Thresher Shark species were eradicated due to human activities—that is, fishing.

It is only a matter of time before the threatened shark species (and many other shark species) becomes totally extinct, so several local authorities have taken several measures against the threat. The Philippine government’s RA 8850 and Cebu’s Provincial Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ordinance are examples of these measures, but these will never be enough unless we Filipino citizens cooperate in the conservation of our life-giving nature.

References:

  1. Horn, Holger W. 2015. Facebook. Accessed July 21, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/holgerw.horn/posts/1043704738981676?pnref=story.
  2. AmbideXtr0us. 20 July 2015. “Thresher Shark Sold in Tagbilaran.” Accessed July 21, 2015. http://www.iweb.ph/dead-thresher-shark-bohol-market.
  3. Cool Buster. 20 July 2015. “Endangered Shark Spotted in Bohol Market.” Accessed July 21, 2015. http://www.coolbuster.net/2015/07/endangered-shark-bohol-market.html.
  4. Reardon, M., Márquez, F., Trejo, T. & Clarke, S.C. 2009. “Alopias pelagicus.” The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed July 21, 2015. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/161597/0.
  5. Marine Bio. “Thresher Sharks, Alopias Vulpinus.” Accessed July 21, 2015. http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=284.
  6. Mueller, Jennifer. “Are Thresher Sharks in Danger of Being Extinct?” Accessed July 21, 2015. http://animals.mom.me/thresher-sharks-danger-being-extinct-5570.html.

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He loves to share news and other interesting facts that he finds online. He is an internet slave and he loves photography.

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