Sharks in the Philipines: Overview

Stamps Howard,
Kala Mulqueeny


In the Philippines, most sharks are not protected. Only the whale shark and manta are protected nationally.

The Indo-Malay-Philippine Archipelago, also known as the Coral Triangle Area of Influence, is considered the richest area of marine biodiversity. Scientists have called the Philippines as the “center of the center” of marine biodiversity on earth.

However, the Philippine marine life is also considered as one of the most threatened in the world. The Philippine seas are in danger due to illegal and destructive fishing methods, wildlife trade, lack of political will, lack of awareness, and unsustainable ecotourism practices.

In the Philippines, most sharks are not protected. Only the whale shark and manta are protected nationally.

Endangered Shark Population in the Philippines

In 2009, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) published the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks in the Philippines (Phil NPOA-Sharks). To view this document, download the Phil NPOA-Sharks document. Much of the information in this section is from this document, and page number reference this document.

The Philippines has an enormous variety of shark and ray species living in its waters. There are approximately 163 species of sharks and rays in the Philippines. Of these, 16% are possibly endemic, which suggests high endemicity of Philippine sharks and rays.

To assess the threat status of sharks, global assessments have been conducted using the IUCN Red List Criteria and Categories. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is considered the most authoritative and objective system for classifying species’ extinction risk. The Red Lists developed at sub-global levels are integral to meeting Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) commitments (e.g. Article 7; Annex 1), particularly for the target of reducing biodiversity loss by 2010.

Of the nine categories in the IUCN Read List, three are categories of threat: Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), and Vulnerable (VU). The 2006 IUCN Red List found that 32 of the globally threatened Shark and Ray species are found to occur in the Philippines (i.e. those listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable).

In 2007, another 19 species of Sharks and Rays, all of which were Endangered or Vulnerable, were added to the IUCN Red List of Philippine species:

To date, there has been little-to-no dedicated studies on population research on any specific species of sharks in the Philippines. The most data is on whale sharks. There are maps of whale shark priority conservation areas (DENR, 2011) and elasmobranch priority conservation areas (DENR, 2011) (p. 14). The significant areas are the Visayan Sea, Palawan, and Batanes.

Challenges

According to the Phil NPOA-Sharks document , it is critical that urgent action to greatly improve management practices and implement conservation measures, such as agreed non-fishing areas, enforced mesh-size regulations and international catch limits, is taken before it is too late.

Importantly, it should be noted that regulation would be difficult to enforce in the absence of trained field personnel and regulatory officers.

Sharks

The Philippines is known as the center of marine biodiversity, having 2/3s of the known marine species in the Pacific living in its costal waters. Sharks, as predators of the sea, play a vital role in regulating the ecological balance, particularly the health of important commercial fish species, population balance, and protection of coral reefs. As such, our country plays a crucial role in protecting marine species.

Endangerment

Perhaps the best overview of the situation can be found in

Senate Bill 2616

which has been pending in the Philippine senate since 2010:


Shark Table of Contents