25 Feb 2019

Fiji extends 10 year ban on hunting and selling turtles

12:55 pm on 25 February 2019

The Fiji Government says a ban on the harvesting of sea turtles will continue this year.

A 10 year moratorium on the harvesting and sale of turtles expired at the beginning of the year but the government said it will continue to prohibit the sale, possession and transportation of the turtles.

A Hawaiian green turtle.

A green sea turtle, one of the species covered by the ban in Fiji. Photo: © Cultura, all rights reserved.

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Fisheries Minister Semi Koroilavesau said the ban will ensure that the conservation, management and protection of the turtles is strengthened.

He said the operation must be carefully managed to ensure the turtles' sustainability.

"For Fijians, this is a delicacy. Turtle will be right at the top of the preference.Traditionally, the iTaukeis would consume turtles all throughout the year and even the turtle eggs. So the turtles population depleted very quickly," Semi Koroilavesau said.

Semi Koroilavesau said since the ban came into effect last month, there hasn't been any reports of breaches.

He added that locals have come to realise and understand the importance of protecting the turtles.

There are at least five turtle species in Fiji that are listed internationally as vulnerable.

These include the Leatherback (Vonu Tutuwalu), the Green Sea Turtle (Vonu Dina) and the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Tuvonu).

Critically endangered leatherback sea turtles are back in the bay.

The leatherback turtle is considered a critically endangered species. Photo: Sunlive / Nathan Pettigrew

Fines for individuals caught breaking the ban start at $US4000 and can be as much as $US23,000.

Corporations found breaking the moratorium can face a maximum fine of $US68,000.