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Philippines seizes 1,000 rare sea snail shells

Manila - Philippine authorities said Tuesday they had seized a huge haul of more than a thousand helmet shells from a protected species of sea snail which were being shipped for sale.

Police and fisheries bureau personnel seized 106 boxes, each containing at least 15 of the shells, on the poverty-stricken southern island of Jolo on Saturday following a tip-off, the fisheries bureau said.

The large shells, from the Cassidae family of sea snails, are valued for their beauty and are often used as decorations and as fashion accessories.

The boxes of shells were just about to be shipped for sale in the major cities of Cebu and Manila when they were seized.

The fisheries bureau said it was seeking charges of illegally trading an endangered species against the trader, who was arrested for transporting the shells.

If convicted, the suspect could face as many as 20 years in jail, the bureau added.