The Philippine National Police on Friday released photos of dead and dying marine turtles found on board a Chinese boat intercepted by Philippine maritime police near Half Moon Shoal in the West Philippine Sea last May 6.
The PNP has brought the boat and its 11 crewmen to Palawan, where the suspects will face charges for violating anti-poaching laws.
The seized Chinese boat had 120 live and 234 dead turtles on board, police said.
The poachers pierced the eyes of the turtles and tied them through their eye sockets to prevent the marine creatures from escaping.
China is demanding the release of the fishermen.
In a statement Thursday, Zhang Hua, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Manila, said "solemn representations" had been lodged by the embassy to the Philippine side over the incident, reiterating China's "indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, including the Banyue Reef," China's name for Half Moon Shoal.
Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs said the suspects will face charges.
“The seizing of the Chinese fishing boat, carrying large numbers of endangered species, and the apprehension of its crew by the Philippine National Police Maritime Group Special Boat Unit were undertaken as actions to enforce maritime laws and to uphold Philippine sovereign rights over its EEZ,” the DFA said.
Half Moon Shoal is located just 60 nautical miles west of Palawan and is within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone. - Photos courtesy of the PNP Maritime Group