TURTLE conservation awareness has gone up a level in the form of lasting roadside campaigns or billboards that scream the turtle truth.
The first signboard has been erected near Nabouwalu jetty to capture the thousands of eyes and minds that pass through the port, either departing or arriving on Vanua Levu shores.
A communications initiative of the World Wildlife Fund Swiss-funded WWF South Pacific Marine Species Program, the boards have been placed in areas of high population density to maximise awareness.
WWF South Pacific marine species program co-ordinator Laitia Tamata said this was a way of extending turtle conservation awareness outside conservation audiences to everybody because they were all responsible for turtles, not just the fishermen or the qoliqoli owners. "We need to inform the public clearly and succinctly the law and its breaches, so that none can claim ignorance of it," he said.
Written in iTaukei, the signboards clearly spell out the turtle moratorium that forbids and criminalises the molesting, taking or killing of any turtle species, selling, offering or exposure for sale or exporting of any turtle flesh or shell.
WWF said in a statement it was illegal to dig up, use or destroy turtle eggs of any species. Furthermore, it said the signboards outline the penalties of breaching the moratorium — $500 fine, a three-month prison term or both.
"For killing inordinately large numbers of turtles, an offender may be punished under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna or CITES that quotes a five-year prison term, $20,000 fine or both."