By ERWIN M. MASCARIÑAS
FIFTY-FIVE Hawksbill turtle hatchlings were released by fisherfolks in the coastal village of Candiis in the town of Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental, on Friday afternoon.
Rolando Pagara, a village council member, said these were hatched on Friday morning. Unfortunately, he said, some 62 of the 117 eggs laid back on Dec. 14, 2018, did not make it.
Pagara, who is in charge of conservation efforts for the turtles in Barangay Candiis, “We are still happy that we were able to release this many at this time of the year.”
This Feb. 10, they released only six of over a hundred eggs.
Town records show that between January to December last year, there were seven recorded hawksbill turtle nestings in the town, six in Barangay Candiis and one in Barangay Damayuhan, and higher than the 2017 record of three.
Pagara however said that 2018 was a big year for the Hawksbill turtle conservation efforts in his village, pointing out that seven nestings were already a big leap from what they had in 2017.
He said it was unfortunate that many did not make it because of problems on the sudden rise of tides in July 2018.
Pagara said another problem is the fewer ideal nesting grounds because people started building houses.
The villagers in the small fishing community in Candiis are hopeful that this year would be better and that more turtle nestings would be recorded in the months to come.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the area is a critical habitat for hawksbill turtles.
Sections 4 and 25 of RA 9147 mandates the DENR to establish and manage critical habitats in areas within its jurisdiction but outside protected areas declared under RA 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Area System Act of 1992.
In 2012, the DENR designated 612 hectares in the town of Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental as a critical habitat for hawksbill sea turtles.
The designation of Magsaysay Critical Habitat for Hawksbill Turtles is embodied in DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2016-02, establishing the coastal barangays of Candiis, San Isidro and Damayohan as wildlife critical habitats where a total of six nesting sites were found.
Rhe Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act aims to protect all wildlife, including the marine turtles. Hunting, killing, gathering, their eggs, destroying their nests, selling, transporting and mere possession of any part or derivatives is punishable with a fine of P100 thousand to P1 million and imprisonment of 16 years to 12 years.