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Vietnamese-manned vessel apprehended for illegal fishing around Turtle Islands

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WESTMINCOM

A FISHING vessel, with four Vietnamese crew members on board, was apprehended and been impounded by Philippine authorities for operating illegally in waters around the Turtle Islands in Tawi-Tawi. In a statement released Tuesday, the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said the boat, marked SSEN but with no flag, was caught last Aug. 15 by a joint team of the Philippine Coast Guard’s Sub-Station Great Bakkungan and the Turtle Islands Municipal Police Station. The maritime patrol team pursued the vessel following reports from civilians. The four crew members did not have legal documents, according to WestMinCom. The vessel, which was loaded with sea cucumber catch, is currently impounded in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi while authorities prepare the filing of charges. “We encourage each and every Filipino citizen to immediately report to the proper authorities any illegal fishing activity in their area… Let us be more vigilant and contribute in the conservation and protection of our natural resources,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, WestMinCom commander. The Turtle Islands is a cluster of six islets — Boan, Lihiman, Langaan, Great Bakkungan, Taganak, and Baguan — comprising one municipality with about 5,000 residents as of 2015. It is home to the Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary, a declared protected area and been submitted in the tentative list for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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