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Poachers caught with endangered turtle species

Six Chinese fishermen were charged with poaching endangered sea turtles off the coast of the Philippines recently, The Huffington Post reports.

They were charged after the Philippine navy, coast guard and the Environment Department found a batch of the giant green turtles, called Chelonia mydas, in their speed boat off the coast of Palawan, Philippines, on Friday, the news source reports.

Three of the turtles were released back into the waters after being tagged by wildlife officials. They were likely being caught for use in traditional medicine and food, but have been listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered since 1982. The population is threatened by humans who harvest their eggs, as well as by habitat degradation and activities of marine fisheries. The mean annual number of nesting females has dropped by 48 percent over the last three generations, according to IUCN.

It is illegal to catch green turtles in most countries because of their endangered status, including the Philippines. The Chinese fishermen face criminal charges under the Philippines's Wildlife Act and Fisheries Code. If they are found guilty on all charges, they may face up to 24 years in prison.  
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