SIX Chinese fishermen have been arrested in western Philippine waters for catching endangered sea turtles, officials said yesterday.
 
The fishermen, from China’s southern island province of Hainan, were arrested on Friday in waters off western Palawan province’s Balabac township, said a Philippine military spokesman.
 
They are expected to be charged today with violating the Philippines’ wildlife act and fisheries code provisions against catching endangered animals, said Adelina Villena, chief lawyer at the Philippine government’s Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.
 
The fishermen’s speedboat was intercepted by a joint team from the navy, coast guard and environment department.
 
Glenda Cadigal, a wildlife specialist at the Palawan Council, said the catch included 12 green sea turtles. Three were alive and have been released, while nine were dead.
 
Villena said the fishermen face up to four years in jail for violating the wildlife act, and up to 20 years for violating the fisheries code.
 
The military spokesman said the arresting team suspected the fishermen’s mother ship may have escaped when the speedboat was intercepted.
 
Sea turtles are caught for food and for use in traditional medicine.
 
 
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