The Department of Environment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here urged the public to refrain from hunting marine turtles or locally known as pawikan since it is against wildlife law and instead participate in the government effort to protect their [turtle] population.

This came after an endangered green sea turtle scientific Chelonia mydas was rescued recently in the coastal water of Tibig village in Bulakan town of Bulacan.

According to a fisherfolk, the green sea turtle was accidentally trapped in a fishnet known as "baklad" owned by a local fisherfolk in the area. It was later on released back to the sea after examining its health condition with the assistance from the local government and the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of DENR in Guiguinto, Bulacan.

Last year another four green sea turtles were rescued of the coast of Casiguran Bay in Aurora and in the coast of Manila Bay in Malolos, Bulacan after being trapped in a baklad.

Don Guevarra, information officer of DENR in Central Luzon said marine turtles are important barometer of marine waters.

"They [marine turtles] play vital roles in maintaining the health of the oceans, specifically the health of grass beds and coral reefs," he explained.

He said marine turtles are endangered species and need utmost protection to increase their dwindling population.

As this developed, the DENR appealed to the public to report similar incident and be vigilant in the protection and conservation of marine species and other wildlife.

Of the seven (7) species of marine turtles in the world, five (5) of them were found nesting in the coastal towns of Limay, Marivels and Morong in Bataan; San Antonio in Zambales and in Casiguran town of Aurora, all in Central Luzon.

Section 27 of the Republic Act 9147 also known as the "Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act" prohibits collecting, hunting and possessing of wildlife and their by-products and derivatives. Anyone found guilty of violating the wildlife law shall be imprisoned to a maximum of two years and shall be fined of up to P200,000, if inflicted against endangered species.