GIANT CLAMS. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Visayas reported on Monday (Feb. 22, 2021) that tons of giant clams worth P255 million were confiscated in Negros Oriental last week. The agency said the sale of these marine species is banned by law. (Photo courtesy of BFAR-7)

CEBU CITY – The Bureau of Fisheries and Acquatic Resources in Central Visayas (BFAR-7) on Monday warned that collecting and selling giant clams (Tridacna gigas) locally known as "taklobo” are prohibited.

The agency issued the warning after tons of giant clams worth PHP255 million were confiscated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Negros Oriental last week.

Florencia Mepaña, head of BFAR-Negros Oriental fishery office (PFO), reiterated that the law prohibits the sale and collection of giant clams.

The violation is stipulated under Section 102 (Paragraph B), which states the prohibition on "fishing or taking of rare, threatened or endangered species," of Republic Act 10654 or "An Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing" that amended RA 8550 or "The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998."

Mepaña said it is unlawful to fish, take, catch, gather, sell, purchase, possess, transport, export, forward or ship out aquatic species listed in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), a global trade agreement to protect wildlife, if scientific assessments show that the population of the species in the wild cannot remain viable under pressure of collection and trade.

She said with the recent apprehension, people should be more aware of this prohibited act and hopefully would be discouraged from collecting or selling giant clams that are supposed to be conserved.

Mepaña added that BFAR is closely coordinating with the local government unit in the neighboring island of Negros Oriental to further strengthen the information drive so as to avoid another incident to happen.

According to the Endangered Species International, giant clams fill a valuable role as filter feeders, cleaning the water of pollutants as they ingest algae or plankton.

They can reach around 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) long in size and weigh up to 200 kilograms (440 lbs). It has been estimated that giant clams can live up to 100 years. (PNA)