Fisheries Ministry to set up stricter fines for turtle hunting

The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture has revealed today that it is working on setting up stricter fines of up to MVR10 million (US$650,000) for the illegal capture of turtles and tortoises.

Senior research officer Adam Ziyad told Haveeru that the regulation would allow the ministry to penalise offenders who illegally capture turtles and tortoises, adding that the regulation had been sent to the Attorney General’s Office for legal advice.

The government’s response came after local environmental NGOs Ecocare and Bluepeace condemned images circulating on social media showing a turtle being cut in half, demanding an immediate response.

Also speaking at the press conference today, Director Hussein Sinan said that current procedures required the police to file the cases as criminal offenses, leading to a court case which often does not yield results due to difficulties in obtaining testimony from offenders.

However, with the new regulation in place, the fisheries ministry would have the authority to punish the offenders.

Speaking to Minivan News yesterday, Bluepeace Executive Director Ali Rilwan said that the main obstruction to preventing such instances was poor coordination between the ministry of fisheries and the Environmental Protection Agency – a regulatory body under the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

According to the existing fisheries regulations, the “catching, fishing, collecting or killing” of sea turtles is illegal throughout the country. The collection of sea turtles and eggs is also illegal, but only in 14 of the country’s 1,192 islands.

Source: Haveeru


Rare albino turtle stolen from Sri Lanka may be in Maldives

A rare albino turtle stolen in Sri Lanka could have been smuggled in to Maldives, Sri Lankan media has reported.

The five year old turtle, weighing 9.5 kg, 60cm in length and 35cm in width was reportedly stolen from a private turtle conservation center in Kosgoda. It was reported as missing on Sunday night, and is said to be worth USD250,000 – 300,000.

Sri Lankan news website “Hiru Newsquoted Wildlife Resources Conservation Minister Vijith Vijithamuni Soyza as saying that he believed the stolen turtle could have been smuggled into the Maldives.

Owner of the conservation center Chandrasiri Aabru suspects involvement of a Sri Lankan vocalist Amal Perera. According to Chandrasiri, Amal had shown an interest in buying it, visiting the turtle with a Maldivian friend to whom he requested it to be sold.

Sri Lankan police have summoned and questioned Amal on this matter. The Wildlife Conservation Department says Interpol help will be sought if it was in fact smuggled out of the country.

Catching, killing, importing and the sale of turtles and turtle products have been banned in the Maldives since mid-nineties. However, the implementation of these bans is weak.