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Efforts to save turtle

Dawn Gibson
Sunday, June 15, 2014

EFFORTS made by Fijian communities and organisations to protect Fiji's critically endangered turtle species were recently recognised at the 34th International Sea Turtle Symposium in the United States.

And in presenting these conservation works at the symposium, WWF South Pacific's marine species program manager Merewalesi Laveti said as a cultural icon in Fiji, it was encouraging to note the conservation drives by communities on Vanua Levu and Lomaiviti provinces.

She added however, that while the work seemed to be reaping progressive results, financial constraints could become a problem in the near future.

"Though the turtle work has been truly phenomenal and made progress with communities reporting sighting more turtles than before, the effort must be continued and maintained and to do that financial support especially from international donors is still essential," Ms Laveti said.

"We also need support in terms of technical expertise, research to better inform policy decisions and campaigns for sea turtle protection.

"Such a symposium provided networks for linking up with these opportunities."

When WWF South Pacific's turtle monitoring began back in 2010, the aim of the drive was to help sea turtle populations along the Great Sea Reef, which runs some 200km from Udu Point on Vanua Levu up to the Yasawa Islands.

According to the Fiji NGO NatureFiji-MareqetiViti, Fiji's native turtles both appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of threatened species and both the Green Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle are critically threatened on that list.

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