As Chinese waters are increasingly depleted of sea turtles, poachers have been traveling all the way to the Philippines to satisfy China’s demand. In China, sea turtles are wanted for their meat, eggs, and shells. Sea turtle shells are seen as a sign of status and their bones are ground down and believed to promote longevity. The Philippine Navy is struggling to guard their coast lines and their sovereign boundaries. The Chinese poachers often practice launching smaller fishing craft off of ”Mother Ships” that do much of the hunting, netting, and capture of the turtles. The much larger Mother ship is the vessel that made the voyage from China and is where the smaller boats return to offload their catch. Once the Mother ships holds are full of turtles and fish caught in Philippine waters or they are caught by Philippine authorities. The smaller Chinese boats all retreat back to the Mother ship and the mother ship back in to international waters.
This is extremely frustrating for the Philippine authorities who’s boats are too slow to intercept and inspect the retreating boats or pursue the poachers to hold them accountable. Sometimes the Philippine authorities get a break and are able to catch some of the smaller ships. However the Philippine authorities also face an internal problem when the Chinese fishermen hire the locals to catch the turtles and they are paid to deliver the turtles to the Chinese poachers. Frequently, when caught, the poachers often only receive a small fine. To make matters worse when the Chinese fisherman are arrested and the notifications are made to China about their citizens; the Chinese Embassy pays the fines and the poachers are released. It is a lose, lose situation where there is no actual crime charged to the poachers and instead the fines become an associated cost of running a poaching business for the Chinese. Sea turtles are important for the Philippines for the future generations of the endangered Hawksbill turtle of which the females can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time. Though there is a group starting in China called “Sea Turtles 911” they are a long way off from changing the dietary habits or culture of the Chinese.
Source: PRI’s The World
Article Title: Sea Turtle Poaching and High Demand in China
Author: Mary Kay Magistad
Publication: BBC News
Student Researcher: David Dippe’
Advanced ProQuest search turned up only a local Philippines called paper called Buisness World paper in 2009. One thing that the article mentioned is the potential jail time of 6 years for the Chinese that were caught and the potential fine.
Search words were; Chinese, Poaching, Sea Turtles.
PRI’s The World, 2-9-12
Huffington Post The Green, February 27, 2012
Inquirer Global Nation “The home of Filipino Worldwide”, 12-6-2011
Prepared by David Dippe’ Project Censored. Spring 2012.