Batangas Thresher Sharks

Last night, I chanced upon a segment shown on the PROBE program about thresher shark killings in Wawa, Batangas. It was alarming. According to the local fishermen, the thresher sharks are usually caught in their nets and that they do not deliberately catch them. The shark meat is being sold for Php 150/kilo and the shark fin at Php 1,000/kilo in Batangas public markets. One of the local official interviewed said that they cannot stop the fishermen from fishing the sharks because there is no national law to back them up (Grrr!!!)

According to, “Since Dec. 23, 2007, at least 40 thresher sharks have been killed in the coastal villages of Wawa, Pagkilatan and Mabacong in Batangas City, Bauan town and Barangay Talaga in Mabini town, the environmental group First Philippine Conservation Inc. reported.”

“Dr. Simon Oliver, shark specialist and chair of the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Group based in the United Kingdom, who attended the forum on Thresher Shark Conservation held at the University of Batangas, said that in March alone, 22 thresher sharks had already been hunted in the bay. One of them was a female that had just given birth based on an examination of the shark specimens found. The animal produces only two offspring and it takes a long time. Thresher sharks mature late. A female shark must be 8-13 years old to reproduce, while a male shark has to be 7-10 years old.”

“Because thresher sharks are oceanic, they migrate throughout the Philippine seas. This means that the sharks taken from the Batangas area may impact the same populations that visit other areas. He was specifically referring to the Malapascua Island in Cebu, where 80 percent of the local economy depended on tourism industry generated by the sharks. But reports that reached him last week said the place “has not seen sharks for the past two months.” Dr. Oliver said that the only reason they’re not there is because they’ve been fished out.”

“The population of thresher shark species (Alopias vulpinus) worldwide has already declined by around 75 percent, said Oliver, quoting a 2003 report from the authoritative Science journal. Scientists like him, were particularly concerned with the dwindling populations of bigeye, common and pelagic thresher sharks in Philippine waters since all three species were already declared “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This means that the thresher sharks are now facing a “high risk of extinction in the wild.”

“Oliver likewise believed that the problem of thresher shark hunting in Batangas could be addressed by developing and implementing shark dive tourism similar to Malapascua, which would help earn money for the city. It will also help provide alternative jobs among local fishers who had once hunted them. Based on the Malapascua experience, Oliver expected that Batangas City could earn some P16,000 daily and P5.8 million annually for a single live thresher shark.” In Malapascua, a single dive costs around Php 1,300 – 1,500 per diver. “Oliver said that establishing a tourism industry in Batangas would not be easy since there was a need to know which places the sharks regularly visit and how frequently they go there.”

“City administrator Felipe Baroja said “The problem here is we don’t have an existing national law that prohibits hunting and selling of thresher sharks so we couldn’t simply arrest people. What we need is a local ordinance”. Mayor Eduardo Dimacuha has already formed a task force on endangered species that would oversee the hunting and selling of the sharks, particularly in the public market. Councilor Marvey Mariño, committee on environment chair, said the council would sponsor an ordinance “soon” for the protection of thresher sharks.”

Based on the investigation conducted by local tourism chief and the prime mover of this issue, Ms. Cecille Rosales, the thresher sharks were usually seen by fishermen at the Matuco Point. She has already conducted a series of surveys of the area with conservationist Gerry Reyes. Visit Cecilia’s Site to learn more about this issue.

We need to help conserve not only the thresher sharks but all types of sharks. In Anilao, you’re considered lucky if you see a shark while diving. Let’s do what we can to ensure that this issue does not die and is dealt with immediately by the local government of Batangas.





  1. this is so sad. but we cannot blame them if they have mouths to feed and no other means of livelihood. 😦

  2. Problem is minsan they do it on purpose…kase they get more money for it. THey sometimes bait the threshers on purpose with their sardines…sad…..imagine……batangas lang pala may threshers na.!!!!

  3. The thresher sharks are worth much more when alive. Let’s hope the local officials do their part in educating the fishermen of the threshers’ eco-tourism potential. Imagine diving with thresher sharks in Batangas instead of going all the way to Malapascua.

  4. I heard from the grapevine that the lady prime mover were being pressured by the government for posting the pictures in the internet. 22 thresher sharks in March and no posting on her site. That is strange, I guess there were some truth to it. I wonder what was going on with her.

  5. Kudos to Ms Cecille Rosales for her unduring and untiring endeavor and advocacy for the protection and preservation of these theresher sharks, which for my own opinion, that we should follow our action that is best for the whole population or for the Mother Nature per se, and not only for those small number of families, who fished out these endangered species just for their means of income, but may seek from the government for their means of livelihood.

  6. Ali is right. Saw this movie “Sharkwater”. There’s this one scene where it featured Costa Ricans finning sharks by scrupolous traders for taiwanese mafia. I guess if it isn’t “cudly or cute”. Don’t expect it to be protected. I guess some people consider sharks as one grimmed-faced creatures of the deep hungry for human flesh. Sad thing is there’s no law to protect sharks in general. Mabuti pa ang Panda bear!

  7. I attended a fiesta in Batangas a couple of days ago. The people there were not aware of the existence of the thresher shark and its big potential in tourism until the expose of Cecille Rosales. Puerto Galera and Anilao are already promoting the thresher sharks and the city is still sleeping.

  8. when issues on biodiversity like this hit the headlines, the most common reactions you would hear are straightforward and dictated by common sense, like the need for strict enforcement and thay violators must be arrested and sent to jail. Given the nature and temperament of our own socio-political culture, thiis approach will NEVER solve the conflict between human and biodiversity but rather makes it worse.

    We need to look at the situation from different perspectives and employ holistic approaches to create partnerships among the various stakeholders and lessen the pressure on biodiversi. Antagonizing them with threats of harsh punishments drives their operations underground, making it more difficult to monitor and merely perpetuates the vicious cycle. the conservation of biodiversity is a responsibility of everyone, not just of the LGU, or of the conservation groups nor of the direct resource users. One thing is certain about the situation in batangas, we dont have enough information to make an informed and guided decision.

    A public dialouge has been initiated between the government and the fishing communities of batangas, which should provide a platform to air issues and problems as well as oppurtunity for reaching out and exchanging ideas and possibly discuss measures. we need to keep an eye on this situation and see the developments as they happen.

  9. omg, they are still selling the thresher sharks in the market…. hopeless….

  10. i thought the local government have a task force to oversee the hunting and selling of the sharks.

    last week a group of divers saw one thresher shark cruising in beatrice. we were happy to heard abt that and hopeful for the batangas government in keeping their duties and responsibilities to protect endangered species.

    i dont want to blame the lgu but who should take the initiative in the conservation of biodiversity? (tagged as the center of center of global marine biodiversity) Is it the lgu, the conservation group, the resort owners, the divers group, the fishermen, the teachers, the doctors, the students? let’s go further… the national agencies? let’s call the president down there to resolve the problem and initiate the conservation and protection. sino at paano ba talaga?

    if there were really efforts to protect the sharks, we are willing to help.

    we were happy to know that at least 1 thresher shark was still down there in the waters. if they dont want to stop the hunting and selling (at lleast) regulate the catching of the sharks. what do we expect from this government? to wait until there were nothing more left in the waters? do we pray to high Heavens that they spare or leave us some for future generations until we would know what to do about it? or even act for it?

    hey, we pay taxes and environment fees and other users fees where do our payments for all of these fees go? do the fishermen pay taxes and other fees everytime they get fishes in the waters?

    i also have to do odd jobs just to augment some of my financial needs. nasusunog din and balat ko pag nagguguide ako sa diving groups.

    the issue here is how do we “conserve biodiversity”?

  11. I am a shark lover. I know Thresher sharks are in the citically endangered species list of the IUCN. They are not man eaters at all. I guess the reason for the killings of Threshers and other species of sharks is poverty. These sharks provide an easy way to feed the families of these fishermen. Unless we give them a viable source of money, the killings would not stop, it may even get worse once everybody joins in. Also, the lack of information distribution on how important these predators are to the ecosystem is hurting these poor misunderstood creatures. Our government must act. Enough with the corruption, enough with pretending to be working and pretending they give a damn; we need to see action. It’s like our government is being ran by ignorant people. No idea how bad jeepneys are polluting and how devastating illegal logging is. They never pay attention to these sorts of things. Just too damn busy whoring our country to people who do not respect us, abuse us and our natural resources. Wake up, everyone.

  12. when the people here try to live on an average of 1.00 us dollar a day for most of them, and fish are free to fish,do you really think setting up another shark sanctuary not far from puerto galera,is really going to is food is food,it feeds hungry children,when they are lucky to get rice. this is open to all philipinos to eat,tourists proceedes are only available to those whom have money to capitalize on it,true or not?
    even claiming a sanctuary without law is useless except to those whom can capitalize on tourists and run dive boats and shops and sharks dives and the like,thats almost as bad as trying to tell columbian farmers to grow coffee rather than cocowa,three dollars a lb or six.5 a kilo when the other brings 250.00 a kilo raw, if i had hungry children and could catch sharks,guess what they get shark steaks for dinner,you can call it what you want,but the people here will eat them when they are caught,matter of fact i might even help them:)

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