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Illegal turtle harvest continues despite ban

Salaseini Moceiwai
Tuesday, August 05, 2014

WWF Pacific continues to receive reports through its Dau ni Vonu (DnV) network of turtles being harvested illegally.

While it is yet to ascertain the figures, the organisation is working closely with the Ministry of Fisheries to control the illegal act.

Responding to questions on the issue sent by this newspaper, WWF Pacific turtle project manager Merewalesi Laveti said they were addressing illegal turtle harvests using advocacy and awareness campaigns.

"Through our DnV network, a conservation strategy that we use for turtle protection, we reach out to the communities.

"Turtle monitors are essentially turtle protection champions preaching in their communities, families, church gatherings, village events and even attending the district council meetings to share the turtle gospel," she said.

Ms Laveti said the monitors were once turtle hunters but were now staunch campaigners who walk the talk by abstaining from eating turtle meat.

"These monitors were one-time turtle hunters transformed by the plight of turtles.

"Their change in itself is a powerful testimony enough to influence change of turtle harvesting habits within the communities they live in.

"Turtle monitors are also fish wardens who are trained by the ministry and are empowered to protect fishing grounds, especially to monitor and record turtle harvests."

Minister for Fisheries Lieutenant Colonel Inia Seruiratu said at the recent Northern Agriculture Show in Labasa that despite the existing turtle laws, people still harvested the iconic species illegally.

"I am urging everyone to stop killing turtles illegally. Adhere to the law and save the species or else, face a hefty penalty," he said.

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