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Dive master in jail for killing spotted Eagle Ray

A 27-year-old dive master was arrested for killing a spotted Eagle Ray using a spear gun in the waters of Saipan.

A Spotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari)A Spotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari)
On Jan. 24, 2014, Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Inspector Erwin Flores received information that Hu Jie Fang killed the protected species, in late December last year or early this month.

Flores interviewed former Commonwealth Ports Authority Capt. Juan Diego Rebuenog, now working as a supervisor at the Pretty Tour company in Garapan.

Rebuenog confirmed that he was the captain of the boat that belonged to Pretty Tour when he took some friends and tourists to the San Jose channel where they went fishing.

Rebuenog said two of his co-workers, Fang and four tourists entered the waters. Fang had a spear gun at the time, Rebuenog told Flores.

After several hours, Rebuenog said Fang surfaced and called for help. Rebuenog said he saw a dead spotted Eagle Ray with a spear gun shot to its head.

Rebuenog and his co-workers then helped Fang take the dead spotted Eagle Ray aboard, and they returned to land.

At the Pretty Tour office near the intersection of Sugar King Road and Middle Road in Garapan, Rebuenog said he saw Fang take the dead spotted Eagle Ray and put it in his vehicle.

The witness said Fang told the tourists not to take photos   with the dead spotted Eagle Ray, adding that it was illegal to kill them.

While on the boat, the witness said Fang told the tourists that they would eat the spotted Eagle Ray at Pretty Tour Kitchen on Beach Road in Garapan.

Fang is employed as dive master by Divers in Paradise on Saipan, a dive shop at the Hafa Adai Hotel in Garapan.

Flores told the court that a scuba diving location commonly known as Eagle Ray City or Ice Cream Point is a popular dive destination because it is the regular gathering area for spotted Eagle Rays. Eagle Rays can also be found in the channel in the San Jose area.

Flores said: “It is unlawful to feed, take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, transport, export or import any Eagle Ray, alive or dead, or any part thereof, without being permitted to do so pursuant to commonwealth Public Law 15-124.”

Upon review of DFW records, Flores told the court that the Divers in Paradise dive shop is not authorized nor had submitted any documentation to the DFW office that would allow the dive shop to procure spotted Eagle Rays which are protected species.

Yesterday, Superior Court Judge Joseph N. Camacho retained the $1,000 bail on Fang, who was remanded to the custody of the Department of Corrections after a court appearance.

Assistant Attorney General James McAllister represented the government while the court appointed Assistant Public Defender Matthew Meyer as counsel for Fang, a Gualo Rai resident.