Philippine court convicts Chinese fishermen of poaching giant sea turtles at disputed shoal

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A Philippine court has convicted nine Chinese fishermen of poaching and taking hundreds of endangered giant sea turtles from a disputed shoal in the South China Sea and fined each nearly $103,000 but imposed no jail term.

The fishermen were arrested in May at Half Moon Shoal and their boat and catch of 555 endangered sea turtles were seized. The arrests sparked another spat between the Asian neighbors in the increasingly volatile South China Sea.

Judge Ambrosio de Luna of the regional trial court in western Palawan province found them guilty of violating the country's fisheries code, ordering them Monday to pay a fine of $100,000 each for poaching in Philippine waters plus 120,000 pesos ($2,666) each for taking wildlife.