By Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
LUCENA CITY, Philippines — Fishermen in the coastal village of Lipata in Padre Burgos, Quezon, on Wednesday feasted on the meat of a sea turtle they earlier rescued but which died while in captivity, a Quezon official said.
Janet Geneblazo-Buelo, Quezon public information officer, said her office received a report early Wednesday about a rescued sea turtle, locally called pawikan, in Padre Burgos along the coast of Tayabas Bay.
She said authorities rushed to the site with staff members of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office and the provincial government to oversee the tagging and protection of the stranded turtle.
“But what we found was only the empty shell of the poor turtle. The coastal residents butchered the meat when the turtle died,” Buelo said.
Buelo said the turtle was accidentally entangled in the net of a local fisherman on Monday evening.
“We were told that the turtle was already weak when it was brought to shore. Unfortunately, we received the report already late,” Buelo said.
Buelo said she told residents that butchering turtle for its meat even if it’s already dead is still unlawful.
Once a marine habitat ruined by destructive fishing practices, the Tayabas Bay off Quezon, Marinduque and Batangas is now a sanctuary for endangered sea turtles.