Authorities intercepted three Chinese nationals who tried to smuggle 32 kilos of an endangered dried sea horse from Mactan Cebu International Airport, Cebu city.
According to the Bureau of Customs Cebu Facebook page, Transnational Aviation Support Services Inc. (TASSI), Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and Counter-Terrorist Unit (CTU) officials confiscated the dried sea horse from the Chinese nationals who were bound for Macau.
Customs Intelligence and Investigation Services (CIIS) representative Ferdinand Laraga, acting Customs examiner Divina Arreglo, and Customs Enforcement, Enrico Tamayo of Customs Enforcement, and Security Services, and representatives from CTU, and TASSI conducted the physical examination in the presence of BFAR-7 fishery quarantine officer Alexander Montuya.
The government officers confiscated the dried sea horses for violation of Republic Act No. 8550 (The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998), Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) No. 233, and Republic Act No. 10654 (An Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing).
Seahorses were considered as endangered species in the country.
BFAR-7 took the three Chinese nationals under their custody before they were turned over to BFAR regional office at Arellano Boulevard, Cebu City, for further investigation. They were also issued violation notice or possession of aquatic wildlife.
Chinese nationals smuggle dried sea horse, freed after paying fines
Lawyer Kim Labasan of BFAR7 confirmed the foreigners were released after paying the settlement penalty, which was allowed for first-time offenders.
Labasan, however, did not disclose how much the offenders paid, or if they already flew out of the country or still in Cebu.
The confiscated dried seahorses were kept at a secure area in BFAR-7 regional office before they will be disposed of after 15 days.
Seahorses, while an endangered species, are known to abound in the waters of Bohol and Cebu. Dried seahorses are prized for their medicinal properties and as an aquarium display.