Thousands of bangus freed into the open sea: who’s responsible?


After at least 5 huge fish cages were slashed in Sual town in Pangasinan, Philippines setting free cultured fish into the sea, the prices of bangus dropped from P90-100 to P35. The criminal destruction of the cages each containing about 50,000-100,000 fish was reported by PCP Aqua Development Corp, the owner to the police.

The investigators at press-time don’t know who is responsible, but the incident raises questions on criminal liability. Selling “lost or stolen” property is a crime, but one wonders if the fish sold cheap in the market from the cages qualify as such. How can one identify the native fish caught legally in the open sea from the cultured ones set free from cages without resorting to DNA tests?

The law related to this issue needs rethinking. Are the fish owners protected from incidents like this? Pangasinan folks in the meantime enjoy catching and selling the fish to traders who take advantage of the temporary fish boom at a loss of fish-cage owners. =0=

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