A court in the Philippines charged six Chinese fishermen with poaching during proceedings today. The men were arrested after their speedboat was intercepted off the coast of Palawan Island in the Philippines. Police found a cache of 12 endangered green turtles aboard. 9 of the turtles were already dead—the three living turtles were released on the spot.
The sea turtles are often caught for food and for use in traditional medicine. They are considered endangered due to the over harvesting of both eggs and adults.
If convicted, the fishermen face up to 24 years in prison. The case, however, is expected to move slowly. Last year, six Chinese fishermen were arrested near the same spot with a batch of more than 50 turtles. Their trial is still ongoing.
Sea turtles play an important role in the local marine ecosystem by maintaining the length and health of seagrass beds.