14 Sep 2007

Fiji province says church feast more important than country's conservation programme

10:17 am on 14 September 2007

Fiji's Macuata province has threatened to withdraw from the country's marine conservation programme over the issue of 84 endangered turtles killed in the province during the recent annual conference of the Methodist Church.

Fiji's fisheries officials had given the province permission to kill only three turtles for use in traditional feasting during the conference but a total of 84 were slaughtered.

This has led to serious concerns being raised by many local and international conservation bodies, including the World Wildlife Fund, that turtles may become extinct in Fiji because they take a very long time to breed.

But a Macuata provincial official, Mosese Nakoroi, says traditional values are more important than current conservation programmes.

Mr Nakoroi says it is the traditional right of Methodist church members in the province to kill as many turtles as they please for customary feasting.

He says the province is willing to pull out of conservation efforts for the right to traditionally hunt protected turtles, some of which are on the critically endangered list.