Best of our wild blogs: 16-18 Jul 16

Predawn trip to Shores of East Coast
Offshore Singapore

New Species of Crab Discovered at Pulau Hantu
Hantu Blog

Happy World Snake Day!
Herpetological Society of Singapore

Night Walk At Punggol (15 July 2016)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Larval Host Plant for Butterflies: Mango
Butterflies of Singapore

Squaretail Mullet (Ellochelon vaigiensis) @ Tanah Merah
Monday Morgue

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Fish farms near Pulau Ubin raided for dealing in duty-unpaid cigarettes

Today Online 17 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE — Five people have been arrested for dealing in contraband cigarettes using fish farms off Pulau Ubin.

The arrests came after customs officials intercepted a lorry in Bukit Batok Street 21 on Wednesday (July 13) and found 15,960 packs of duty-unpaid cigarettes hidden inside styrofoam boxes.

The 56-year old driver was arrested, and investigations revealed that the cigarettes had been smuggled into Singapore through a fish farm near Pulau Ubin.

A boat registered to the fish farm had carried the cigarettes, which were then loaded onto the lorry at Changi Creek. The boat and the lorry have been seized.

The Police Coast Guard and Singapore Customs identified the fish farm believed to be involved and raided it on Thursday. Two other fish farms were also raided.

The raids turned up another 2,088 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes, and following a two-day operation, four more people were arrested: A 51-year-old man, two men aged 32 and a woman aged 50.

According to a press release from Singapore Customs and the Singapore Police Force, the duty and Goods and Service Tax (GST) on the haul of 18,048 cigarette packets exceeded S$140,000 and S$14,000 respectively. Further investigations are ongoing.

Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing in duty-unpaid goods can result in fines of up to 40 times the duty and GST evaded, and/or a jail sentence of up to six years.

Authorities seize 18,000 duty-unpaid cigarette packets; 5 arrested
Channel NewsAsia 17 Jul 16;

SINGAPORE: Four men and a woman were arrested in a two-day joint operation on Wednesday (Jul 13) by Singapore Customs and the Police Coast Guard (PCG) for dealing with duty-unpaid cigarettes, said a joint news release.

A total of 18,048 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized in the operation. The total duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) involved exceeded S$154,000.

On Wednesday afternoon, Singapore Customs officers intercepted a lorry in Bukit Batok Street 21 and found 15,960 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes stored in styrofoam boxes in the lorry.

The 56-year-old male lorry driver was arrested and the lorry was seized.

Investigations by Singapore Customs revealed that the boxes of duty-unpaid cigarettes had been loaded onto the lorry at Changi Creek from a boat registered to a coastal fish farm in the waters off Pulau Ubin.

Upon receiving this information, PCG’s intelligence and Loyang region officers immediately worked together to identify the fish farm believed to be involved in this illegal transaction.

In the early hours of the Thursday morning, PCG and Singapore Customs mounted a joint raid at the identified fish farm. Two other fish farms were also raided after further investigations by PCG investigators.

This follow-up and subsequent interviews by PCG and Singapore Customs officers led to the recovery of 2,088 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes packed in styrofoam boxes and the seizure of a boat.

One man aged 51, two men aged 32, and one woman aged 50, were arrested at the fish farms. Investigations are ongoing.

Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act.

Offenders will be severely dealt with. They can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, and/or jailed for up to six years.

The minimum court fine for first-time and repeat offenders of tobacco-related offences is $2,000 and $4,000 respectively. Repeat offenders who are caught with more than 2kg of tobacco products will also face mandatory jail sentences.

- CNA/mn

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Singapore to supply additional potable water to Johor after urgent request made

Today Online 17 Jul 16;

SINGAPORE — Singapore is providing Johor with an additional six million gallons of treated water per day after Johor’s water regulatory body made an urgent request.

This additional supply started on Sunday (July 17) and will continue for three days, Singapore’s PUB said in a statement. Currently, the Republic already provides 15 to 16 million gallons of treated water per day regularly for Johor.

According to the PUB, Johor requires the additional six million gallons of water per day to stabilise its supply system in Johor Baru, which has been affected by pollution in the Johor River.

“Service to PUB’s customers in Singapore will not be affected in any way as we are able to increase local production at short notice,” said the national water agency.

Last month, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said Singapore’s water supply was adequate even though it started supplying more potable water to Johor at the request of the Malaysian state’s water regulatory body.

He also said the Government had asked the Malaysian authorities to look at other ways to top up Linggiu Reservoir, which PUB operates and from which both Singapore and Johor draw water.

Under the 1962 Water Agreement with Malaysia, the PUB is entitled to draw 250 million gallons of raw water per day from the Johor River. In turn, PUB is obliged to sell 5 million gallons of treated water per day to Johor.

In practice, however, the PUB has been regularly providing Johor with three times this, up to 16 million gallons on a daily basis, said the water agency. The terms of the Water Agreement end in 2061.

Singapore supplies additional potable water to Johor on urgent request: PUB
Channel NewsAsia 17 Jul 16;

SINGAPORE: Singapore has begun supplying Johor additional potable water following an urgent request by Badan Kawalselia Air Johor (BAKAJ), said PUB in a media statement released on Sunday (Jul 17).

PUB said Johor BAKAJ requested for an additional supply of 6 million gallons of treated water per day for the next three days. The statement added that the water is needed to stabilise its own supply system in Johor Bahru after the shutdown on Wednesday due to pollution in the Johor River.

"PUB has readily acceded to this urgent request and commenced additional supply of treated water to Johor since 17 July 12am. This additional supply will continue for the next three days."

PUB added that customers in Singapore will not be affected in any way as it is able to increase local production at short notice.

The statement added: "PUB Singapore is entitled to draw 250mgd of raw water from the Johor River under the 1962 Water Agreement with Malaysia. This right is guaranteed by the 1965 Separation Agreement and expires in 2061. The 1962 Water Agreement also obliges PUB to sell 5mgd of treated water to Johor. In practice though, PUB has been regularly providing Johor with three times this, up to 16mgd on a daily basis."

This latest request for 6mgd is on top of the regular 15-16mgd we provide Johor every day, said PUB.

- CNA/mn

Johor makes 'urgent request' for additional treated water from Singapore
CAROLYN KHEW The Star 18 Jul 16;

SINGAPORE: Malaysia has started receiving an additional six million gallons of treated water per day from Singapore.

This comes after Johor's water regulatory body Badan Kawalselia Air Johor (Bakaj) made an "urgent request" on Saturday to national water agency PUB, asking for an additional supply of treated water.

"Bakaj requires this water to stabilise its own supply system in Johor Baru after a shutdown on Wednesday due to pollution in the Johor River," said PUB in a statement Sunday.

The agency added that it started supplying the additional amount of water yesterday and the arrangement will carry on until Tuesday.

The extra amount of treated water is being supplied by the PUB-operated Johor River Waterworks.

The latest arrangement, however, will not affect Singapore's own water supply as the agency is able to increase its own local production at short notice, said PUB.

This means getting more water from desalination plants here, as well as reservoirs, to ensure that Singapore's water needs are met.

Last week, The Star reported that effluents discharged from a palm oil mill have been identified as the main source of high ammonia content in the Johor River.

The pollution caused operations of three water treatment plants in Johor to stop, affecting some 600,000 users in the southern parts of Johor.

PUB is entitled to draw 250 million gallons of raw water daily from the Johor River under the 1962 Water Agreement with Malaysia, which expires in 2061.

In exchange, Singapore is obliged to sell five million gallons of treated water to Johor each day.

However, PUB has been regularly providing Johor with up to 16 million gallons of water on a daily basis. The new addition of six million gallons of water daily comes on top of this.

This is not the first time that Johor has asked Singapore to supply more water. There have been previous instances where Singapore had to supply additional water to Johor due to "urgent operational needs", said PUB.

Last month, Bakaj also requested that PUB provide an additional six million gallons of water per day for a month, following dry weather that severely affected water levels in Johor's Sungai Layang dam. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

MB: No need to publicly argue with GLC over pollution of Sungai Johor
ZAZALI MUSA The Star 20 Jul 16;

KOTA TINGGI: The state government will not publicly spar with a government-linked company over the recent detection of high ammonia content in Sungai Johor while awaiting further test results.

Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin said there was no need to argue publicly with the GLC-owned palm oil mill in Ulu Remis near Kluang which had been identified as having caused the pollution in Sungai Johor earlier this month.

“A closure notice has already been issued to the palm oil mill and we are awaiting the test results from the Department of Environment (DOE),” Mohamed Khaled said when asked to comment on the statement by the company that its in-house laboratory tests did not find any trace of effluents from the palm oil mill.

Mohamed Khaled spoke to reporters at a ceremony to mark the completion of the Seluyut Dam project near here which cost more than RM1bil.

The project supplies raw water to the multi-billion ringgit Petronas Pengerang Integrated Complex located about 90km from the dam area.

Mohamed Khaled said the palm oil mill had been given a stop-work order for 60 days from July 14 by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

The notice was served after DOE found that effluents from the mill were the main cause of high ammonia content in Sungai Johor.

The pollution was detected in the river on July 12, causing a major water disruption in three southern districts for three days until July 14.

It forced the shutdown of three water treatment plants, namely Semangar, Sungai Johor and Tai Hong, which affected some 600,000 users.

The water treatment plants serve domestic, commercial and industrial users in Skudai, Kulai, Bukit Batu, Iskandar Puteri, Tanjung Bin power station and Port of Tanjung Pelepas.

On Singapore having supplied treated water to Johor during the three-day disruption, Mohamed Khaled said it was a normal procedure as agreed between the two sides.

“The same thing happened during the recent drought where we received treated water from the republic. It reflects the good bilateral relationship between Johor and Singapore.”

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Malaysia: State to meet owners of industries operating along Sg Johor

NELSON BENJAMIN The Star 15 Jul 16;

JOHOR BARU: All factory and mill owners operating along Sg Johor and Sg Sayong will be called in for a special meeting following the ammonia spill which caused a major water disruption affecting hundreds of thousands of consumers.

Johor Heath and Environment committee chairman Datuk Ayob Rahmat said that the meeting would be held as soon as possible and attended by personnel from the Environment Department and other agencies.

“Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Muhamad Khaled Nordin is concerned about this incident and has directed a meeting to ensure our waterways are free from pollution.

“This is the second time this has happened in the area this year,” he said, adding that previously it was due to an oil spill from an illegal factory which was burning tyres in Kulaijaya in April.

Ayob added that he expects to meet with at least 60 millers, factory operators and industries operating along a 26km stretch of Sg Johor.

He added that all these operators had complied with the regulations before obtaining an operating licence but they did not seem to maintain their equipment properly.

“Everyone needs to play their part. In the latest case, I have been informed that the effluent pond at an oil palm mill was not properly maintained causing the leakage,” he said.

On Tuesday, high levels of ammonia believed to be from a oil palm mill was discovered in Sg Johor prompting the shutting down of three water treatment plants.

It affected users in Skudai, Kulai, Bukit Batu, Tanjung Bin power plant, Iskandar Puteri and the Port of Tanjung Pelepas.

Syarikat Air Johor Holdings Sdn Bhd has mobilised tankers to supply water to public places such as hospitals, dialysis centres, places of worships and community halls.

Ayob also stressed that everyone should play their part in conserving the state’s water resources including the public who should stop throwing rubbish into the state’s waterways.

Johor to identify industries perating along all rivers
The Star 20 Jul 16;

JOHOR BARU: The state government will soon carry out an aerial mapping exercise to identify industry players operating along all rivers following the ammonia pollution that caused a major water disruption in Sungai Johor.

“This is needed to prevent similar incidents of pollution especially in rivers supplying raw water to consumers,” said State Secretary Datuk Ismail Karim.

He said the state has instructed the Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) to conduct investigations and plan the aerial mapping to identify industries currently operating along all rivers, including Sungai Johor.

This is the second time waste has been emitted from an oil palm mill in the state.

The first incident occurred in Felda Taib Andak, Kulai in 2015 where an illegal factory processing waste and old tyres caused water pollution, said Ismail when met at an open house hosted by Johor Village Heads Association at Kompleks Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat here.

He also said the oil palm mill belonging to a government-linked company in Ulu Remis here has been served a 60-day notice of closure starting from July 15 pending cleaning up works

Ismail added that the notice of closure was issued by the Department of Environment under Section 31 of the Environment Quality Act 1974, adding that investigation papers would be opened under Section 16.

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Malaysia: Johor seeking an end to water woes

ZAZALI MUSA The Star 18 Jul 16;

JOHOR BARU: The state authorities should start going to the water catchment areas to monitor activities carried out there and stop those that are polluting major rivers and disruption water supply.

President of Green Earth Society Johor P. Sivakumar said that concerted efforts, including strict enforcement, were needed from the authorities to ensure major water disruption would not happen again in Johor.

He said in April 2015, almost 500,000 users in three southern districts of Johor, were left high and dry following a huge oil slick in Sungai Johor.

“Now, a high level of ammonia content in Sungai Johor has affected some 600,000 consumers in southern parts of Johor and they were left without water for three days,” Sivakumar said when contacted on Friday.

The oil spill has been identified as diesel-based and was from tyre burning activity at a factory in Felda Taib Andak in Kulai.

In the latest case, a high content of ammonia was detected by the authorities on June 12, from the effluents discharged by a palm oil mill in Ulu Remis near Kluang into Sungai Johor.

Raw water from Sungai Johor was supplied to the Semangar, Sungai Johor and Tai Hong water treatments plants which supplied water to users in the three districts in southern Johor.

“Enforcement must be lacking as otherwise this latest episode of another major water disruption would not have happened again in just 15 months,’’ he said.

Sivakumar said apart from Sungai Johor, which was the main source of water supply in south Johor including for the multi-billion ringgit petroleum complex in Pengerang, other rivers which were in need of immediate attention were Sungai Kapal and Sungai Santi.

He said the big question now was how the government could assure the people they can provide clean water to south Johor in the future if the rivers were polluted.

Johor Malaysian Nature Society chairman Vincent Chow said the government had not much choice now but to start relocating existing industries along river banks further inland.

“Approving factories near the river banks and areas closer to water catchment areas by the authorities is already wrong and the people are paying the price for it,’’ he said.

Chow said the authorities would start blaming the industries for polluting the rivers but the industries on the other hand said they had complied with the regulations.

Johor Health and Environment committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said all factory and mill operators along Sungai Johor and Sungai Sayong would be called in for a special meeting following the ammonia spill.

There are about 60 millers, factory operators and industries operating along a 26km stretch of Sungai Johor.

“The operators had complied with the regulations before obtaining an operating licence but they do not seem to be maintaining their equipment properly,” he said.

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Malaysia: Whale carcass washes up on Malacca beach

ROSHIDI ABU SAMAH New Straits Times 17 Jul 16;

MALACCA: A carcass believed to be that of a beached whale calf was found at Pantai Puteri here yesterday.

The carcass, measuring about two metres, was found by a Civil Defence Department (JPAM) personnel around 1am.

JPAM personnel Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, 61, said the carcass was found by his colleague, who was on duty at a nearby lookout tower.

He said his colleague initially thought that the large object was a wooden stump washed in by the waves.

"Upon further inspection, he realised that the object was a dead whale calf," he said when met at the beach yesterday.

Ridzuan said there were visible injuries on the whale, believed to have been inflicted by a ship's propeller.

It is learnt that the carcass would be collected by SWM Environment Sdn Bhd workers for disposal.

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Malaysia: Get prepared for a wet, wet season

The Star 17 Jul 16;

PETALING JAYA: The wet and rainy season is here. According to the Malaysian Meteorological Depart­ment, many areas in the peninsula will be hit by scattered rain from now until next month.

An average monthly rainfall of between 100mm and 250mm is expected and may see further increase in September.

In Sarawak, the department is predicting “higher than normal” rainfall of between 200mm and 250mm for this month, especially in Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman and Sibu. Other areas in the state will experience normal average rainfall.

The department said that many parts of Sabah would receive normal rainfall during the same period.

Currently, Malaysia is experiencing the south-west monsoon which is expected to last until mid-September. La Nina’s effects are likely to be felt around September, with an active hurricane expected in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, and these might affect many parts of Sabah.

The La Nina phenomenon is coming at the tail end of the strongest El Nino in 20 years, which brought scorching heat and dry days earlier in the year.

The latest data from a United States climate agency showed that there was a 75% chance of La Nina occurring between October and December.

The National Disaster Manage­ment Agency has been tasked to coordinate disaster preparedness and flood mitigation plans for La Nina.

Bad weather halts flight departures, arrivals at KLIA, KLIA2
HARIZ MOHD New Straits Times 18 Jul 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Stormy skies over the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and klia2 saw delays in departures and arrivals of several flights last night.

Malaysia Airports Bhd in a statement said the delays affected Malaysia Airlines, Tiger Airways, JetStar and Air Asia flights from 7pm upwards.

"Malaysia Airports would like to inform that there have been some delays of arrival and departure of flights from 7pm this evening affecting Malaysia Airlines, Tiger Airways, JetStar and Air Asia due to bad weather over KLIA and klia2.

"Based on the information we received from Air Traffic Control, the bad weather had also affected Singapore."

The statement posted on MAHB's official Facebook page after midnight today stated that flight movements at both airports had resumed as normal as weather conditions had improved.

It said passengers have been advised to check with the respective airlines to confirm their flight schedules.

Heavy shower, thunderstorms in KL nothing to do with La Nina
The Star 14 Jul 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The heavy shower and thunderstorms which hit the federal capital Wednesday had nothing to do with the La Nina phenomenon but the country is still experiencing the south-west monsoon.

Science, Technology and Innovations Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Madius Tangau said the south-west monsoon phase, where the atmosphere was drier had started since the third week of May and was expected to continue until September.

Thus, he said, the current hot and dry weather resulted in the country having less rain compared to the other seasons.

“But, heavy rain and thunderstorms are still expected to occur because of the presence of the squall line, that is, a line of thunderstorm cloud moving from the sea towards land.

“This phenomenon can occur during dawn especially in the coastal areas in Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca, west Johor, west Sabah and Sarawak,” he said Wednesday.

Yesterday afternoon, the federal capital was hit by thunderstorms which resulted in flash floods in several locations and uprooted trees that damaged more than 10 vehicles. – Bernama

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Malaysia: Nearly 6,000 rice farmers affected by drought

The Star 18 Jul 16;

KANGAR: Nearly 6,000 farmers in northern Perlis have had their livelihoods affected as 7,500ha of padi fields remain unproductive due to the drought this year.

State Farmers Organisation Authority director Shaidan Nordin said cultivation could only be carried out in 30% of the total of 11,500ha of padi fields in the area, albeit with imperfections.

“The 30% of fields where seeds were sown did not produce good yield; it was difficult for the plants to grow as it is not possible to use fertilisers in dry conditions,” he said.

He said this after opening the annual general meeting of the Paya District Farmers’ Organisation here yesterday.

Shaidan said the farmers began sowing seeds over a month ago, but with only intermittent rain occurring of late, the fields tend to dry up again, and the young plants wilted.

Even vegetable plants could not be grown to enable the farmers to earn a side income during the drought, he added. — Bernama

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Malaysia: Kinabatangan Sanctuary fire likely caused by poachers

The Star 16 Jul 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Poachers may have caused a fire that razed nearly 100ha of forest in the wildlife-rich lower Kinabatangan Sanctuary.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said rangers found the carcass of a deer and bullet casings in the area, suggesting that poachers could have killed the deer and cooked it there.

“Maybe they did not bother to put out the fire and just left it smouldering,” he said, adding that the fires were between Kg Sukau and Kg Abai.

The fire began late Tuesday around Lot 2 of the sanctuary and spread to parts of Lot 1 before heavy rain put it out on Thursday.

Firemen including rangers from the forestry and other departments took steps to douse the fire but it was the heavy downpour that helped to put it out completely.

Sam said most of the areas damaged were a mix of peat, swamp and mangrove forests between Sukau and Abai.

The fire also damaged almost 2ha of the Trusan Kinabatangan Forest reserve that borders the sanctuary.

Sabah Wildlife Department deputy director Augustine Tuuga said that the proboscis monkeys and other animals in the area were not harmed by the fire, since most of them had fled the area.

“The damage is mostly in the forest area,” he said, adding that they would work with the Forestry Department to find out the cause of the fire and take appropriate action.

The flora- and fauna-rich sanctuary was gazetted as a conservation area in 1999.

Better coordination essential to ensure sanctuary is managed effectively, says NGO
RUBEN SARIO The Star 17 Jul 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Increased protection should be accorded to the biodiversity-rich lower Kinaba-tangan in Sabah’s east coast by providing sufficient resources to the Forestry and Wildlife departments, says WWF-Malaysia chief executive Datuk Dionysius Sharma.

He said the incidents of poachers intruding into the protected area and starting fires there were worrying.

He said lower Kinabatangan was a sanctuary for Bornean orangutans, elephants and other wildlife.

Dionysius said reports of poachers starting fires came on the heels of the IUCN’s Red List recent upgrading of the Bornean orangutan from endangered to critically endangered status.

WWF-Malaysia will continue to work closely with enforcement agencies and other NGOs to call for better protection and management of the sanctuary, he said.

“We urge better coordination of the multi-stakeholder Kinabatangan Management Committee to ensure that the sanctuary is managed effectively,” Dionysius said.

He said a huge amount of time and money had been spent by many groups to conserve Kinabatangan’s biodiversity.

There is still more that needs to be done to ensure that wildlife, forest, and people in Kinabatangan can exist in harmony and benefit each other, he said.

Everybody loses if decades of hard work and dedication goes up in smoke, he added.

Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said poachers destroyed about 100ha of forest in the area after starting a fire to cook a deer they had hunted.

The fire began late Tuesday around Lot 2 of the sanctuary and spread to parts of Lot 1 before firemen including rangers from the forestry and other departments took steps to douse the fire aided by a heavy downpour on Thursday.

Mannan said most of the areas damaged were a mix of peat, swamp and mangrove forests between Sukau and Abai.

The fire also damaged almost 2ha of the Trusan Kinabatangan Forest reserve that borders the sanctuary.

Sabah Wildlife Department deputy director Augustine Tuuga said the proboscis monkeys and other animals in the area were not harmed by the fire, since most of them had fled.

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Malaysia: Turtle egg smuggling ring busted in Sandakan

The Star 17 Jul 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Marine Police crippled a major turtle egg smuggling syndicate after intercepting four pump boats which led to the seizure of 19,000 eggs in Sandakan.

State Marine Police chief Asst Comm Mohamad Madun said the seizure of turtle eggs with a street value exceeding RM30,000 was the largest so far in Sabah.

He said the seizure was the result of a special Marine Police operation to nab turtle egg smugglers in the Sandakan area.

Mohamad said three Marine Police vessels were involved in the operation in waters near Sungai Batu 2 at about 1.30am yesterday.

He said Marine Police personnel spotted four pump boats trying to speed off upon seeing the patrol vessels.

Mohamad said a 15-minute chase ensued resulting in the four vessels being seized and four boatmen aged between 21 and 49 years nabbed.

Also detained were eight suspected illegal immigrants between 17 and 63-years-old.

All are believed to be Filipino nationals who did not have any identification documents.

Mohamad said the four pump boat engines seized were worth about RM10,850.

In another development, Marine Police arrested two men aged 21 and 60 for suspected fish bombing activities in waters off Pulau Nunuyan at about 8.20am on Friday.

Mohamad said police recovered three bottles filled with chemicals and six detonators used for fish bombing.

Sabah police cripple turtle egg smuggling ring
RUBEN SARIO The Star 16 Jul 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah marine police have crippled a major turtle egg smuggling operation after intercepting four pump boats and seizing 19,000 eggs with a street value of RM30,000 in the east coast district of Sandakan.

State marine police chief Asst Comm Mohamad Madun said the seizure was the result of a operation to nab turtle egg smugglers in the Sandakan area.

He added that three marine police vessels were involved in the operation in waters near Sungai Batu 2 at about 1.30am on Saturday, when personnel spotted four pump boats which tried to speed off.

Mohamad said that the four boats were seized after a 15-minute chase that ended with the arrests of 12 people, aged between 17 and 63 years.

Mohamad said the police seized four pump boat engines are worth RM10,850.

Filipino smugglers found with 19,000 turtle eggs off Sabah coast
AWANG ALI OMAR New Straits Times 16 Jul 16;

SANDAKAN: A total of 19,000 turtle eggs were seized from Filipino smugglers here today.

Sabah Marine Police Chief Assistant Commissioner Mohamad Madun said the eggs were found on board four pump boats - wooden vessels powered with modified water pumps - along with 12 Filipinos aged between seven and 63 off Sungai Batu Dua about 1.45am. Mohamad said acting on a tip off, a special operation was launched where three assault vessels were dispatched last night.

"The team spotted the pump boats around 1.30am and a chase ensued.

After a brief pursuit at sea, our men managed to intercept the boats," he said. The eggs, kept in sacks, were found in the boats.

Investigations will be conducted on the four skippers, he added. Turtles and its products are a totally protected species under Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 and it is an offence to possess these animals or its products.

Offenders can be fined RM50,000 or jailed five years, or both, upon conviction.

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Indonesia to Impose Five-Year Moratorium on New Palm Oil Concessions

Tabita Diela Jakarta Globe 15 Jul 16;

Jakarta. The Indonesian government will soon issue a presidential instruction that would serve as legal basis for a five-year moratorium on new palm oil concessions as part of the country's effort to reduce the negative impact of the plantations on the environment.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has put environmental issue as one of his administration priorities, seeking to put an end to Indonesia's deteriorating tropical forests.

Last year, the president extended a moratorium on peatland exploitation, which has been in place since 2011. Jokowi also said in April that he wanted to stop oil palm plantations and mining taking up forested land.

"The new policy is part of the previous ones, but this time, we come prepared with more data," Coordinating Economics Minister Darmin Nasution said on Friday (15/07).

Darmin said the government would make use of single base map — created in terms of the One Map Policy program that harmonizes all maps in the archipelago into one reference map — to ensure that the program does not overlap or conflict with other polices, such as on mining, agriculture or infrastructure development.

The minister's comment came after a meeting in Jakarta with his colleagues, including Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, Trade Minister Thomas Trikasih Lembong, Industry Minister Saleh Husin and Land and Spatial Planning Minister Ferry Mursyidan Baldan.

This was the first meeting at ministerial level for the implementation of the presidential order.

The follow-up meeting — which still has to be scheduled — will determine the details and norms in the regulation.

"We will also include the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil System standard [in the regulation], so please don't be too worried as there will also be a transition period," Darmin said in an effort to assuage concerns among palm oil producers who fear that the plan could undermine one of the country's largest raw commodity exports.

Indonesia, as the world's largest palm oil producer, has been criticized by activists and other Southeast Asian countries for years as it failed to stop or prevent the region's annual haze problem, caused by forest clearing for palm and pulp plantations.

Trade Minister Thomas said the policy would prop up Indonesia's image as it aspires to contribute to efforts to stem global warming.

Indonesia govt planning moratorium in new oil palm plantation
Antara 15 Jul 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government is planning moratorium policy of opening new oil palm plantation especially in forest areas to be effective in five years.

Coordinating Minister for Economy Darmin Nasution said moratorium is ruled to concentrate more on replanting and improvement of productivity.

"We want to redress the system in the development of the oil palm plantation including improving productivity and replanting," Darmin said after chairing a meeting on withholding license for new oil palm plantations.

Taking part in the coordination meeting were Minister for the Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya, Trade Minister Thomas Lembong, Industry Minister Saleh Husin and Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Lay out/head of the National Land Office Ferry Mursidan Baldan and leaders of palm oil companies.

Darmin said the moratorium is the continuation of the program postponing the opening of land for new oil palm plantations effective as from 2011.

"This time we have to prepare data. It happens we already have the Program of One Map Policy and the map. Therefore we hope this policy could be operational more effectively," he said.

He said the availability of data is crucial in the implementation of the planned moratorium as without the data it would be difficult to solve any problem in the field.

"We will also include standard such as ISPO (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil System). Therefore, no need to worry too much as there would be a period of transition," he said.

Minister Siti Nurbaya said the government will issue a presidential instruction for the implementation of the program requiring all ministries to take any necessary steps in line with their respective functions.

"There would be no license to use forest and peat lands for oil palm plantations," she said.

The drafting of the presidential Instruction and the Inpres norms about moratorium for forest and peat lands to be used for oil palm plantation are expected to be ready in the next coordinating meeting.

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Indonesia: Coral reefs, vital for maintaining food supply

Fardah Antara 17 Jul 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Coral reefs are not just beautiful but also crucial for maintaining the food supply for millions of people living along the coast all over the world.

Some 850 million people live within 100km of a coral reef - known as the "rainforest of the ocean" - and derive some economic benefits from the services provided by their ecosystem.

Besides, coral reefs, which are biologically diverse and delicate ecosystems in the world, are also vital for protecting the shoreline of low-lying island nations.

Nevertheless, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) estimates that about 20 per cent of the worlds coral reefs have been destroyed and another 60 per cent are under threat.

Those facts were highlighted during a consultation meeting on the implementation of the 2nd United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) Resolution on Coral Reefs held in Manado on June 28 and 29, 2016.

Representatives from 61 countries participated in the Manado meeting held by the UNEP in cooperation with the local government of North Sulawesi, according to Director General on Sea Management at the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry Brahmantya Satyamurti Poerwali.

The participating countries included Indonesia, Grenada, Eritrea, and Fiji, in addition to Maldives, Madagascar, Vietnam, and Thailand. The other countries were Malaysia, Somalia, Seychelles, and the Philippines, in addition to Antigua. Delegations from the UNEP and the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) were also present.

This consultation meeting was a follow up action of Resolution 2/12 on Sustainable Coral Reefs Management that was adopted during UNEA-2 in May 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The meeting was aimed at identifying opportunities for implementing actions on a coral reef policy and management in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; prioritize follow-up actions by the UNEP, including support provided to member states in implementing the resolution; as well as to identify technical, operational and financial needs in implementation of the resolution.

The Resolution 2/12 on sustainable coral reefs management calls for initiatives, cooperation and commitments to conserve and sustainably manage coral reefs, including cold-water coral ecosystems and mangroves; recognizes that education, capacity-building and knowledge transfer is crucial; and encourages integrated, ecosystem-based and comprehensive approaches including partnerships with industry, as well as establishment of MPAs and other spatial and relevant sectoral approaches to enhance climate change resilience.

The resolution further requests the UNEP to pursue a number of specific actions, inter alia in relation to awareness raising; knowledge transfer; coral reef climate change resilience; and coral reef policy instruments; apart from development and implementation of national or regional measures and action plans; and development of indicators and assessment of coral reef status and trends.

Coordinator of the UNEPs Pacific Office Sefania Nawadra said in the meeting that damage to coral reefs may have an adverse impact on food security worldwide.

Therefore, the sustainable management of coral reefs is of great importance for ensuring food security and nutrition for mankind, Sefania noted, and added that food security affects human life globally.

Since it is more difficult to manage human beings than to manage the environment, it is necessary to change the publics mindset by asking them not dump plastic or trash anywhere, apart from a lot else, he said.

Global food security will face problems, marked by extraordinary happenings as a result of food poisoning, Sefania further said. Therefore, there should be intervention in food security.

To handle food security-related problems it is not enough to deal with their impact, such as the extraordinary events caused by food poisoning, he stated.

"That is why it is very important to prevent them (such events) through education," he said.

Coral reefs are uniquely vulnerable to climate change, in particular, and most immediately to temperature increase. Implementation of the UNEA-2 resolution on sustainable coral reefs management provides opportunities to address climate vulnerability as well as direct stress on coral reefs while supporting development based on a blue economy

Coral reefs occur in over 100 countries and territories worldwide. About half a billion people draw direct benefits from coral reef ecosystem services. Coral reef fisheries are a critical source of protein for tens of millions of people, and coral reef tourism provides a significant source of foreign exchange for many countries.

The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) report Status of Coral Reefs of the World 2008 found that a fifth of the worlds area of coral reefs has already been lost, with 15 percent of reefs at risk of being lost within the next 10 to 20 years and a further 20 percent under threat of loss in 20 to 40 years.

The most recent global threat-based assessment of coral reefs, Reefs at Risk Revisited 2011, estimated that two thirds of coral reefs in the world are under immediate and direct threat from human activities.

Overfishing was identified as the most pervasive immediate threat, affecting more than 55 percent of the worlds reefs, followed by coastal development and watershed-based pollution, each estimated to threaten about a quarter of reefs.

The assessment further noted, "the combined impacts of ocean warming and acidification will increase the threat levels on more than half of all reefs by 2030, pushing the percentage of threatened reefs to more than 90 percent by 2030."

Meanwhile, North Sulawesi Vice Governor Steven Kandouw expressed pride at the fact that the meeting was held in Manado, which is home to the Secretariat Office of the CTI.

Besides, North Sulawesi hosts one of the worlds most amazing coral reefs, found in Bunaken Maritime National Park.(*)

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Indonesia: Developing marine tourism in Riau Islands

Otniel Tamindael Antara 17 Jul 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Listed as the third contributor of foreign tourism destination in Indonesia after Bali and Jakarta, the Riau Islands Province is making every effort to develop marine tourism in order to attract more tourists and improve the local peoples welfare.

The province has long and white coastline stretches as far as the eyes can see, beautiful charm of undersea scenery, and a variety of water sports that will please the tourists visiting the area.

Local Tourism Office Chief Guntur Sakti has stated in the provincial city of Tanjungpinang that the Riau Islands Province, better known as Kepri, has marine tourism potential that has to be managed optimally.

Many beautiful islands in Kepri with marine tourism potential, according to him, must be developed properly in order to attract more domestic and foreign tourists.

Indonesia has marine tourism sites with great potentials, especially those in archipelago areas, but they have not been managed optimally.

Development in archipelago areas needs to be accelerated to improve the local peoples welfare, exploit the marine potentials and to maintain the life of people on remote islands as well as in border areas which serve as the countrys peripheral fortifications.

The development of maritime tourist attraction in Kepri is expected to increase tourism competitivenessi with foreign countries, especially those neighboring the region.

According to him, Kepri Governor Nurdin Basirun supports efforts to change the strategy of tourism from land towards the sea, as 96 percent of the provinces territory is waters.

Riau Islands offers white sandy beaches, big rocks, deep sea fishing and adventure sports, and undersea panorama of fish and coral reefs, but the potential has yet to be optimally tapped into.

Among the islands in Kepri, Batam receives the third largest number of foreign tourists, following Bali and Jakarta. However, most of them spend their time either shopping or playing golf, not enjoying marine tourist resorts.

Head of the Batam tourism service, Yusfa Hendri, noted that the authorities planned to develop the islands of Galang, New Galang and other surrounding islands to attract tourists.

These islands have beautiful coral reefs that prove to be a paradise for divers and people who like fishing and snorkeling as a hobby.

In addition, the Indonesian government also plans to develop the Natuna Islands District in Kepri and its surrounding areas into a new tourists destination.

"In line with the directives of the President, Natuna will be transformed into a new tourism destination," Indonesian tourism minister Arief Yahya remarked recently.

He stated that following President Joko Widodos visit to the region in June, the tourism minister would immediately follow up on the plan.

He promised that he would ensure that his officials immediately close ranks and work together to develop the countrys outermost region.

"I have asked the head of tourism service of the Riau Islands province, Guntur Sakti, to report the results of the Presidents visit to the deputy for development of tourism destinations to achieve synergy," he said.

Arief noted that Natuna Islands and their surrounding areas have the potential for tourism development, as these have maritime possibilities.

Therefore, he revealed that he planned to develop Natuna as a maritime tourism destination.

President Joko Widodo, during his visit to the region had ordered acceleration of development in Natuna as one of the front-line islands.

To achieve that, infrastructure development is needed. Better connectivity and economic development of sectors such as fishery industry, gas industry and tourism will help the area.

The government has acknowledged tourism as a vital sector and set it as one of the main priorities for the countrys economic and national development.

"We have been promoting Indonesias status as a world-class maritime country. This is important in supporting strategic sectors of the economy and politics, including our promising marine tourism products," Arief said.

Another strategy was one stop shopping that encourages the growth of investment in all sectors, including tourism.

This policy was intentionally prepared to anticipate the competition among South East Asian countries for ASEAN Economic Community that started in 2016.

Additionally, the Indonesian government has allocated a budget of almost US$200 million in order to support tourism promotional programs. This budget is intended to support the diversification and promotion effectiveness in larger markets.

The Ministry of Tourism, together with various tourism stakeholders, has prepared a variety of projects.

The ministry continues the marketing and promotion strategies with a focus on strengthening the positioning and branding of "Wonderful Indonesia" in its major market countries.

It aims to position Indonesia as "a wish list country" for world travelers.

To achieve this, the Ministry of Tourism massively holds worldwide marketing communication campaigns through the channels of international media, for example print, electronic, online and outdoor media such as buses, taxis, MRT, bus station, train, shopping centers with images of tourist destinations in Indonesia.(*)

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Indonesia: Papua`s biodiversity going international

Otniel Tamindael Antara 17 Jul 16;

Red Fruit is known as the traditional medicine of Papua (PHOTO ANTARA/Ismar Patrizki) ()
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The International Conference of Biodiversity in Jayapura, Papua, in September 2016 will highlight the existence of a large number of animals and plants which make up a balanced environment in the land of Papua.

Papua and West Papua are known to have abundant biodiversity which include a lot of medicinal plants that can be developed for the local peoples welfare.

The effectiveness of the medicinal plants are known for thousands of years to the Dani tribe in the Baliem Valley in Jayawijaya district, and the people of Afrak Mountain district in West Papua.

Situated in the south of the West Papua provincial city of Manokwari, the Arfak Mountain District, which gained self-autonomy from Manokwari District in 2012, has an abundance of medicinal plants whose leaves can be used to treat numerous ailments.

The Baliem Valley, located at an altitude of 1.900 meters above sea level, has medicinal plants which have proved effective to cure various kinds of diseases.

A lot of plants in the mountains of Jayawijaya district have medicinal properties and if developed properly could step up the local peoples health and welfare.

Hence, the International Conference on Biodiversity this time in Papua will more specifically discuss ecotourism and creative economy that can be undertaken by the people of Indonesia, especially in Papua.

The Papua provincial government continues to finalize the preparation for the International Conference on Biodiversity, organizing committee chairman Noak Kapisa, concurrently the head of Papua Environmental Management Agency, has stated in Jayapura.

Invitations have been prepared for presenters and stakeholders, among whom are local and foreign participants from the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia for participation in the conference.

Scientists and researchers who had studied biodiversity or culture in Papua are among some 750 foreigners and Indonesians who will participate in the conference.

Exhibitions displaying the unique biological diversity and culture of Papua will also be held coinciding with the International Conference on Biodiversity that will take place in Jayapura from September 7 to 10, 2016.

The International Conference on Biodiversity organized during the tenure of Governor Barnabas Suebu was related to general matters, but this conference will focus more on ecotourism and creative economy, according to Kapisa.

"So, the bottom line of this conference is to drive the creative economy in Papua that has to do with ecotourism and biodiversity," Kapisa remarked.

There are four basic issues, including scientific seminars and exhibitions that will be discussed in the conference, which is aimed at evaluating the potential of biodiversity and ecotourism in Papua.

"In addition, the conference is also aimed at promoting ecosystem services and culture as assets of ecotourism, as well as driving the creative economy based upon biodiversity and ecotourism to support the welfare of the indigenous people of Papua," he reiterated.

Through the conference Papua will display its advances in promoting a sustainable economy, according to him.

"The potential of biodiversity and ecosystem services in Papua is the basis for the development of increased prosperity for Papua natives," he emphasized.

Papuas potential biodiversity needs to be assessed, managed and packaged in order to be promoted through creative economic development and ecotourism to maintain the dignity and quality of life for the local people, he added.

Many of the medicinal plants are endemic and grow only in the Jayawijaya and Arfak mountain regions.

Among the medicinal plants growing in the regions are Rhododendron Macgregoriae which is effective in fighting bacteria, Myrmecodia Aureospinosa that can cure cancer and other diseases, and Pandanus Conoideus which is popularly known as Red Fruit.

The Red Fruit grows well in all Papua regions, especially in the Jayawijaya mountain area of Wamena and Tolikara, Jayapura, Manokwari, and Nabire, in addition to Timika, and Ayamaru in Sorong.

The red fruit is traditionally prepared by splitting it, wrapping it in leaves, and then cooking it in an earthen oven to produce juice, which is used as skin and eye medicine, and for worm treatment.

Based on the analysis conducted by Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), Red Fruit actually contains high degrees of carotenoids and tocopherol, which is rich in Vitamin E supplements.

There are over 600 known carotenoids divided into two classes, xanthophyll which contains oxygen, and carotenes which are purely hydrocarbons and contain no oxygen.

People consuming diets rich in Carotenoids from natural foods such as fruits and vegetables are healthier and have lower mortality from a number of chronic illnesses.

The total amount of Carotenoids in a fresh Red Fruit is 34,000 ppm, and in its Red Fruit extract it is 8,600 ppm. The total amount of Tocopherol in a fresh Red Fruit is 133,000 ppm, while in its Red Fruit extract it is 17,000 ppm.

Beside Carotenoids and Tocopherol, Red Fruit extract also contains overfull fatty acids, such as Lauric, Palmitate, Stearate Acids, and non-full fatty acids, such as Palmitoleat, Oleat, Linoleate Acids, Omega-3, etc.

From the high compound ingredients of antioxidants as well as fatty acids within the Red Fruit, it was rationally understood that its extract is used as an alternative food supplement to enhance physical endurance.

The endurance is caused by the chemical ingredients from the oil of the Red Fruit such as Beta-carotene, Tocopherol, an active compound of fully fatty acids and non-fatty acids.

The antioxidants contained in the Red Fruit extract will neutralize the free radicals which is believed to cause diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cancer, leukemia, HIV-AIDS, etc.

Red Fruit is also useful for healthy people to help step up their stamina and body endurance.

Besides containing antioxidants and antiviral compounds in high doses, Red Fruit also contains fairly complete essential vitamins and minerals.

Red Fruit is known as the traditional medicine of Papua, which has been empirically proven as an alternative medicine to cure diseases like cancer, HIV/AIDS, tumors and hypertension.

Besides Red Fruit, Papua is also rich in "ant nest" medicine that has been used by the public for several years in Asia and Europe.

Since early 2005, ant nest from Papua has been introduced to the public and to date a lot of people are still busily discussing its effectiveness to cure various diseases ranging from the mild ones such as headaches, rheumatism, nosebleeds, and ulcers, apart from gout and hemorrhoids, to severe diseases such as tumors, cancer, liver, and lung tuberculosis, in addition to kidney disorders, prostate, and coronary heart disease.

In addition, these anthill plants can enhance and accelerate the production of breast milk and restore the health of women after childbirth, increase stamina and be used as an aphrodisiac (increases sexual desire). Some even say that the content of flavonoids may control the development of herpes and HIV-AIDS.(*)

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Philippines: Whale sharks are an endangered species

It’s official: ‘Butanding’ an endangered species
Alya B. Honasan The Inquirer 17 Jul 16;

There’s bad news for the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), an iconic marine animal frequently spotted in Philippine waters and known locally as butanding.

Now listed as “endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, this gentle giant has slipped one step closer to extinction, with the whale shark fisheries in southern China seen as a definite problem.

As a migratory species, whale sharks swim into southern China, site of several active whale shark fisheries, “which can really affect the regional population (of this species),” said Dr. Simon Pierce of Marine Megafauna Foundation who is also a member of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group.

The IUCN, the world’s largest environmental network, counts some 1,300 members and is the main authority on global species conservation. Its Red List, founded in 1964, is the most comprehensive and recognized listing of the status of species in the world.

IUCN Red List categories range from Least Concern (LU), meaning the species is still widespread and abundant, to Extinct (E), meaning there are no known individuals still existing, whether in the wild or in captivity.

At high risk

The whale shark was previously classified as Vulnerable (VU), meaning the species was at high risk of danger in the wild. The next level, Endangered (EN), kicks this status up to a high risk of extinction. Only two more classifications—Critically Endangered (CR) and Extinct in the Wild (EW)—keep the butanding from being considered under threat of extinction.

In a video released by the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (Lamave), a Bohol-based research institute that has been investigating and satellite-tagging whale sharks since 2012, Pierce said the agency reached this conclusion following its most recent whale shark assessment conducted after 10 years.

“Previously (whale sharks) were Vulnerable, which suggests they had more than a 30-percent decline overall,” Pierce said. “We’ve just upgraded their listing to Endangered, which means the population has probably halved over the last few years.”

He added: “We have been tagging in various places, and the (whale shark) population in this archipelago is really strongly connected and quite likely swimming into international waters,” including those of southern China. This site of several active whale shark fisheries “can really affect (the) regional population (of this species),” Pierce said.

“(Lamave’s) researchers have matched sharks between various islands within the country, but also as far as Taiwan,” said its media director, Sally Snow.

“In 2013, a shark encountered by our team in Southern Leyte was matched with a photograph of a shark previously seen in Taiwan, a minimum journey of 1,600 kilometers. (While) sharks have been moving between Philippine islands, what we are most concerned about is whether the sharks are moving into the South China Sea—an area where they are at risk.”

Snow, who regards the whale shark as a Philippine icon (“We see it daily on the P100 bill”), said “it is devastating to find out that one of the main illegal fishing grounds is right next door. If whale sharks are moving from the Philippines and into these unprotected waters, then we will need to work together toward international protection.”

Lamave researcher Gonzalo Araujo said the satellite tags can tell whether the whale sharks are residing here or are moving elsewhere. “Were they headed toward the south of China? If they are visiting or traveling through this area, they’re at very high risk.”

In May 2016, a photograph of a whale shark caught, hung up and slaughtered in Behai in China’s Guangxi Province went viral.

“It’s a real shame that (these marine animals) have been threatened by our activities,” Pierce said. He recommends swimming with them to experience the animals firsthand, and to get involved in their conservation. “We can also look at other threats like unsustainable seafood fisheries and make better consumption choices,” he added.

Whale sharks, which can grow up to 20 meters in length and feed only on microscopic plankton and small fish—are regularly sighted in the Philippines.

Revenue source

In 1997, divers in Donsol, Sorsogon, discovered that the world’s biggest fish had been frequenting Donsol Bay to feed at certain times of the year. Through the efforts of the Department of Tourism and marine conservation group Worldwide Fund for Nature-Philippines, whale shark interaction was monitored and systematized, ensuring the protection of these animals and creating a major new revenue source for the municipality.

Time Magazine called the Donsol experience the “Best Animal Encounter in Asia” in 2004.

In recent years, Oslob in Cebu has also become a diving destination for whale shark watchers, although environmental groups question the soundness of local practices, as fishermen feed the whale sharks to ensure their presence. The animal, easily recognizable because of its spotted appearance—distinct patterns have been used by scientists to identify individual whale sharks—has also been frequently seen in Tubbataha, the premier Philippine scuba-diving destination in the Sulu Sea, 150 km from Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

In 1998, in the wake of the Donsol phenomenon, then President Fidel V. Ramos approved a national law, the Fisheries Administrative Order No. 193, which banned “the taking or catching, selling, purchasing and possessing, transporting and exporting of whale sharks and manta rays.” The ruling made the Philippines the first Southeast Asian country to pass a national law protecting the animal. TVJ

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