The megamouth shark (megachasma pelagios) is a rare protected shark that swims in Philippine waters. One of its kind was recently caught in a net of some fishermen from a Cagayan De Oro town. Sadly, it ended up as dinner for many of the town’s residents.
Cheryl Magante, fishing regulation officer of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Northern Mindanao region, explains that the shark was trapped in a fishing net off Barangay Cugman last July 5. Magante quoted the testimony of one of the fishermen by saying: “It was wounded and was still alive when it got trapped in the net.”
An interview on a local radio station had an unidentified member of the group claiming that they killed the shark because it weighed down their net. They also claim the shark was thrashing about too wildly to do anything else.
BFAR officials attempted to handle the situation but by the time they arrived, the shark had been slaughtered and distributed as food. The shark was estimated to weigh around 400 kilograms and measure 3.048 meters long and a meter wide. The BFAR officials recovered about half of its body and tail and buried it in in Barangay Kauswagan.
Megamouth sharks are typically only found in deep waters but recent months have seen them venturing to shallow parts in order to hunt for food. This particular megamouth shark is believed to have followed a trail of krill and ended up in the net.
Republic Act No. 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, has outlawed the harming of rare marine creatures. It considers the catching, transporting and killing of endangered marine species as criminal offenses. However, the BFAR is not yet able to take legal action as it is unclear exactly which individuals were involved in the catching and eating of the shark.
What do you think we can do to stop the harming of endangered species?