DENR seeks uplisting of butanding in migratory species protection list

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has proposed the uplisting of the Whale Shark or butanding to Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, or simply CMS.

Appendix I consists of migratory species that have been assessed as facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.

Butanding, whose scientific name is Rhincodon typus, is a filter-feeding shark, very slow moving and the largest known fish species in existence.

It is currently listed under Appendix II of the CMS, which covers migratory species that have unfavorable conservation status and that require international agreements for their conservation and management.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu was confident the draft resolution on butanding will get favorable response from representatives of more than 120 nations during the 12th Conference of Parties to the CMS to be held in Manila from October 23 to 28.

“The resolution, drafted by the DENR on behalf of the Philippine government, is our way of ensuring the protection of butanding, which provides livelihood to communities through sustainable ecotourism apart from being essential to our coastal ecosystems,” Cimatu said.

The Philippines is one of the countries visited by the Whale Shark. It has boosted tourism in some provinces in the country, including the provinces of Sorsogon and Cebu, where tourists are given a chance to swim with these gentle giants.

Meanwhile, Director Theresa Mundita Lim of the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau cited the country’s ongoing efforts to protect the butanding

“While it is the mandate of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to protect the Whale Sharks, we in the DENR are doing our part through these conferences to have an exchange of ideas from global experts and inform the Filipino people about the importance of these species,” Lim said.

She noted that conservation efforts by the local municipality of Donsol in Sorsogon are also being implemented through Resolution No. 16, which declares the Donsol Bay as a whale shark sanctuary. 

There is also the existing Fisheries Administrative Order No. 193, which prohibits the catching, selling, transporting, processing, purchasing, or exporting of whale sharks, she added.

The whale shark is the world’s largest living fish, and is a type of cosmopolitan and warm temperate species. They migrate across national boundaries towards feeding areas, where they exploit predictable but ephemeral prey sources, and follow temperature and productivity gradients in the open ocean. ###

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