26 Jul 2011

Economic times taking toll on endangered turtles in Tonga

3:28 pm on 26 July 2011

It's hoped a new initiative to tag endangered turtles in Tonga will pave the way for prosecutions against fishermen who harvest them.

Last week two turtles were tagged for the first time by a group which is in the initial stages of establishing an environmental NGO in Tonga.

One of the founders Taki Hausia says Tongan people have lived off the land and sea for centuries but says the modern era is taking its toll.

"The economy is starting to rear its head and it starts to become a commercial activity for these local people to actually kill for money instead of their own consumption sustainably."

Taki Hausia says once endangered turtles are tagged, they'll be able to prosecute fishermen found with them.

The group is working with the Ministry of Fisheries and is focusing on data collection, education, and updating legislation.