October 11, 2011
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has moved to increase surveillance by enforcement officers in Galleon Harbour, St Elizabeth to combat the reported increase in incidents of sea turtle poaching. This action is being taken following media reports on the weekend from BREDS, Treasure Beach Foundation - a community-based organization in the area.
Sea turtles are protected under the Wild Life Protection Act (WLPA) and the Endangered Species (Protection Conservation and Regulation of Trade) Act, 2000. IT IS AN OFFENCE TO HAVE SEA TURTLES IN ONE’S POSSESSION, WHETHER WHOLE OR PART, DEAD OR ALIVE. This includes the adult or hatchlings, their shells, flesh, eggs, turtle shell craft items or jewellery and all other turtle derived products. Persons found in breach of the regulations can be fined up to $100,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 12 months.
NEPA has, since 2009, worked to reduce this illegal activity by developing collaborative relationships with the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF), community-based organizations and fisherfolk to increase surveillance along the coastal area. The collaborative and community network approach was undertaken in 2009 to afford participation by key stakeholders in the protection of the environment and its biodiversity given that NEPA does not have all the required resources to adequately patrol the wide areas.
Initial evaluation of the information received by NEPA supports that the present upsurge in turtle poaching around the island appears to be fueled by desire for monetary gain for the meat of protected animals due to the downturn in the local fishing industry over the past months.
Breaches of the WLPA and other environmental laws may be reported by phone to NEPA on weekdays, 8:30am - 4:30pm, at 1-888-991-5005 (toll-free), 754-7540; to Richard Nelson at 580-8081; or by email: email@example.com; or to the nearest police station.