The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has renewed its call against the culture and propagation, as well as release into the wild, of Chinese softshell turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis), which is considered an invasive alien species that poses threat to local biodiversity.
The DENR-National Capital Region, through its East Field Office (EFO), recently retrieved a Chinese softshell turtle in Quezon City.
The reptile was first reported by a netizen who asked for assistance from the regional office, and was referred to EFO which immediately dispatched a team to retrieve the turtle.
According to the DENR-NCR, Chinese softshell turtles are considered invasive alien species under the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Technical Bulletin No. 2013-02 released in 2013.
An invasive alien species is described by the DENR-BMB as “organisms that are spread outside their natural distribution and become a threat to native ecosystems and biodiversity.”
They can be plants, animals, fungi, or microorganisms that are introduced by transport or human activity, thrive, and over time, compete with native species in the region or area where they are introduced, it added.
It also said that most invasive alien species grow rapidly, are good dispersers, and are highly adaptable to a wide range of conditions.
In its technical bulletin, the DENR-BMB pointed out that the overpopulation of Chinese softshell turtles poses a potentially significant threat to Philippine endemic and indigenous fish and aquatic animals, as well as to local fishponds and fishery operations.
The introduction of Chinese softshell turtles to wetlands and other areas of the Philippines “is unauthorized, illegal, and punishable with imprisonment of up to eight years or a fine of up to P5 million, or both.”