BFAR seizes shipment of helmet shells

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The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and elements of the Philippine National Police confiscated on Saturday some 106 boxes of helmet shells at the Chinese pier in Jolo, Sulu.

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The BFAR reported that the helmet shells—a large endangered marine species of the Cassidae family—were owned by 60-year-old Peralta Pula and were bound for Cebu and Manila.

Each box of the contraband contains about 15 to 23 pieces of helmet shells in varying sizes, the bureau said, adding that an inventory was being conducted to determine the total value of the intercepted cargo.

The BFAR described helmet shells, locally known as budyong, as characterized by a narrow opening and a horny lid shaped like an open fan and are mostly found on sandy beaches of the open coast from shallow to deeper water. They are sold on the black market mainly for their ornamental value.

Gathering, selling and owning of budyong and other endangered shell species are prohibited under Republic Act 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code. Violations of this law are punishable by 12 to 20 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of P120,000.

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