PALAWAN, Philippines — In a span of six months, Philippine environmental authorities have seized 150 tons of giant clam shells from a string of operations across the island province of Palawan, suggesting a resurgence in the illegal trade of the “jade of the sea” for the Chinese engraving market. Since October 2020, authorities have been receiving tip-offs of the illegal trade, which involves local fisherfolk gathering giant clam shells across the province and burying them in select seashores to be unearthed and picked up by traders later on. Reports show an average of two law enforcement raids occurring every month since October involving giant clam shells; the latest and biggest so far was on March 3, when authorities confiscated 324 pieces of shells weighing a combined 80 tons on Johnson Island in northern Palawan. “The poached shells were the old ones that have been abandoned for a long time,” Roger Dolorosa, a giant clam expert from Western Philippines University (WPU) in Palawan, told Mongabay. “Most fishers know or [are] familiar where to find these large shells, hence they find it easy to collect.” The haul included shells from Tridacna gigas, listed as vulnerable in the IUCN and in CITES Appendix II. The species is prohibited for collection and exportation in the Philippines, with violators facing up to three years’ imprisonment and fines of up to 3 million pesos ($61,800). The 150 tons of giant clam shells that Philippine environmental authorities have seized suggest a resurgence in illegal trade for the…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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