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Sea Turtle Conservation programme launched

Sea Turtle Conservation programme launched


It is now the closed season for catching turtles and their eggs, and persons found doing so could face a jail sentence and a maximum fine of $5,000.

The closed season, which began Thursday March 1 will run until July 31 and is in an effort to replenish the sea turtle population through the National Sea Turtle Conservation programme.

At the launching ceremony held at the Calliaqua Fisheries Centre recently, Chief Fisheries Officer Raymond Ryan emphasised that man was the number one predator in the decline of the creature and said that a change in attitude was needed if the species was to be sustained.{{more}}

Ryan said there is now a comprehensive monitoring programme, which would include biological monitoring of the reptile and education for the members of the public who prey on it. The Chief Fisheries Officer said that a balance must be established so that people could get turtle meat to eat but still know the importance of complying with the legislation to protect the sea creature.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Montgomery Daniel said that while there is a conflict between consumption and protection of the turtle, as a developing country with limited resources, St Vincent and the Grenadines must ensure that there is a balance between the two interests.

Daniel said that for many years turtle meat has been considered a delicacy and options to have the turtle meat play a greater role in diversification must be explored. He however warned that first, the population must be replenished and greed must never take over those who consume the meat so that there would be more turtle meat for generations to come.

He noted also that sea turtles played an integral role in cleaning up the ocean from the moss and algae, which destroys other marine life.

There are four species of turtles that mainly inhabit Caribbean waters but the Green Turtle, which is inclined to the colder regions occasionally migrates to the warm waters of the Caribbean.