THE Philippines today charged nine Chinese fishermen with poaching more than 500 endangered sea turtles at a disputed South China Sea shoal.
Prosecutor Allen Ross Rodriguez said two other arrested Chinese crew members were minors and would be sent home.
The nine have been charged with violating two provisions of the Philippine fisheries code, including illegally harvesting 555 endangered turtles.
Police arrested the fishermen and seized the boat last week at the disputed Half Moon Shoal.
China has pressed the Philippine government to free the fishermen and the boat, insisting that they were apprehended in Chinese waters.
Beijing warned Manila not to take any more “provocative actions so as to avoid further damage to bilateral relations.”
The fishermen face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to £1,350 each. They can post bail but cannot not leave the country because of immigration law violations.