By Ben Rosario
The House of Representatives has approved on second reading House Bill No. 8926 or the proposed “Shark Conservation Act of the Philippines” which seeks to regulate the catching, sale, purchase, possession, transportation, importation, and exportation of all sharks, rays, and chimaeras in the country.
Authored by former President now House Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo, HB 8926 mandates swift action in addressing the extinction of marine wildlife and achieve a balance between human needs and the integrity of the Philippine marine ecosystem.
Arroyo is confident the House will pass the measure on third and final reading soon.
“Sharks are typically depicted as apex predators that have significant top-down effects on food webs. They help keep prey populations healthy by feeding on weak, sick, or old fishes, and prevent overgrazing of critical marine habitats,” Arroyo said in the explanatory note of the bill.
She explained that “the removal of sharks from an ecosystem has the potential to create significant changes to predator-prey interactions, affecting the whole system.”
“Aside from ecological benefits, sharks and rays have also been proven to boost local economies through sustainable tourism activities, and through fisheries in many developing countries,” the highest House official said.
Under the bill, the Department of Agriculture shall have jurisdiction over the regulation of the consumption and preservation of sharks, rays, and chimaeras in all Philippine waters.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the DA shall be the lead agency for the implementation of this proposed Act.
The measure provides that no person or entity shall be allowed possession of a shark unless proven that they have the financial and technical capability and facility to maintain the species.