IT IS simple — you cannot be butchering and feasting on highly endangered, threatened turtle species.
These were the words of a representative from the Fisheries Department, speaking at the WWF South Pacific's talanoa session at the Holiday Inn in Suva.
In an interview, Aisake Batibasaga said the department's goal this year, amid the turtle moratorium in place, was to bring turtle harvesting exemption permits to between 35 and 40.
"We would like to be stricter in the coming years and cut it down to 20-25 permits, say, in the next three years.
"But in some of the Dau ni Vonu reports we heard today, they said there are still instances where people are killing a lot of turtles and without a permit, but that comes down again to a need for more awareness programs," he said.
When asked what the "exemption permits" included in terms of turtle protection, he said the permits would be very stringent.
"The exemption permit will be very specific — if you come and you are going to a funeral of an elder or traditional ceremony, etcetera, and you get the permit, you are only going to harvest one male Green turtle within a size range and that's it — only one."