Protecting sea turtles an uphill battle – conservationist

A Leather Back turtle on a beach in Dominica

Conservationist Errol Harris has described efforts at protecting sea turtles in Dominica as an ‘uphill battle.’

This, as sources told Dominica News Online of the indiscriminate killing of Leather Back turtles and the digging of their nests at the Salisbury Beach.

“Four men are capturing turtles from the Salisbury Beach to sell in the community market and are also known to cook the eggs after capturing and butchering the mothers,” a source said. “At nights these men take their fishing boats up to the beach and drag the creatures unto their vessel and later probe the beach for the abandoned eggs.” according to the source.

But Harris said repeated efforts by his organization, the Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organization Inc, to end such practices has not been an easy task because of the lucrative black market and laws to protect the endangered species have not been correctly amended.

“Presently the maximum sentence for catching an endangered turtle is $400 or 3 months in prison,” he said. “Two years ago it was agreed that law would be amended to increase the maximum fine to $7,000 but up to now this has not been done.”

Harris said the fine is just too small to deter people from killing the animals. “I heard one man said he can make more than $400 on one turtle,” he pointed out. “So the fine is not really having an impact.”

He said his organization, with the help of volunteers, has been trying to make sure that turtles that come ashore on the island are not killed. “The government allows turtles to be killed at sea during certain times of the year but we protect them when they come ashore,” the conservationist explained. “So we have patrosl on beaches around the island as much as we can.”

Harris is lamenting the lack of funds for his work. “We just don’t have the funds,” he stated. “We work with communities around the island but if we had the funds we could do more. It is really an uphill battle.”

He said his organization will investigate the complains coming from Salisbury.

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33 Comments

  1. Jessica
    October 8, 2012

    The problem is that the poaching happens on the beach. Only females come up to the beach, and they do so to nest. Killing off the females of the species means that the next generation is not guaranteed. This is why these animals are going extinct. The ban is there to allow the population to be able to replenish themselves. If these killings continue during the ban, eventually there will be none left. None left to enjoy, neither as a spectacle nor as food.

  2. Yes Fada!
    October 7, 2012

    Oh my, these poor creatures. :cry:
    I’ve always said that if I ever have the opportunity to witness a turtle nesting on a beach, I’d count myself lucky. Because at the rate turtles are being slaughtered, they may soon become extinct. I don’t eat the meat, or the eggs…that’d be against my conscience. The slaughtering, first and foremost, is just too gruesome. A turtle has so much of a difficult life to live; its a real struggle for them to survive. Unlike many other animals, they take years to reproduce, and even then very few of their young make it to adulthood. DNO, the only thing I can promise is to report any poachers I come across. If there is one Dominican who would stand like a guard to protect a nesting turtle, it’s undoubtedly me.

  3. East Carib Dive
    October 7, 2012

    When dit it happen. We as diveshop in Salisbury try to protect the area but unfortunately we were out of state. I feel so sad to hear that. 12 years in Dominica and i see less and less turtle prints on the beach. Now you say it was a leatherback! I wish I could have done something If I had been in Dominica. We need more funds to have guardians on the beaches. We are ready to involbe the tourists collecting some money but we need a national plan!!

  4. Justice and Truth
    October 6, 2012

    Fellow Dominicans, think for yourselves and utilize your common sense. Granted, if there is a law and a time/season for catching/haunting them, then you must obey the law since it is already established.
    However, all this business and talk about endangered species originated from those progressive countries and those overseas organizations. Dominica did not have this restriction previously. Today, restrictions are placed on wild animals, crabs, fishes etc.
    Cease copycatting other countries and godless ones at that and allowing them to dominate your water, foods, sea, river, air. They are comparing you to a big country which you are not. Those who give you advice and expect you to follow them, regard you as a small country and not a big one. You are independent and self-governing. Therefore, allow the people who get the stray turtles to keep them (finders’ keepers) and sell them on condition that they pay their fair share of tax.
    What God has created will never become extinct. He created them for a purpose and this purpose is for your consumption. There will always be more to replenish the supply as others grow.
    Would you prefer purchasing overseas frozen beef -meat, chicken and tin stuffs which may not be healthy for you than eat what is in the sea and on land? This is food for thought.

  5. caribbean man
    October 6, 2012

    Pondera you are and imbecile.

  6. TouJou Sav
    October 6, 2012

    Sea Beef mi say!! am all for it, especially the eggs but that’s like a delicacy n these people are just OVER doing it.. They need to be STOPPED!!!

  7. jax
    October 5, 2012

    nature island. oh, oh my foot. other islands are making big bucks from tourists that come to see turtles, whales and dolphins. The guys even come knock on your door to tell you a turtle is on the beach, they supply rum and fresh cooked bakes for the tourist, all at a price. And they do well. what is D/a offering ? well you can go see a turtle hacked to death if you want. Tourist will never come while this kinda thing happening.

  8. Homeboy
    October 5, 2012

    Maybe it’s time the international media get word of this and people who are conservationists an Eco tourists start a campaign to put DA on the ‘ black list’.

    Let the turtles live!!

  9. Gang killing
    October 5, 2012

    When you are explaining to your grand children what a turtle was you will hang your head when he asked “why did you have to eat all of them? Were you so hungry that you destroyed another of Gods creations?”

    • Justice and Truth
      October 6, 2012

      @ Gang killing

      Some of you accuse others as also ancestors for killing and eating them. This was the custom in those days. Fishermen have sold them to people as my father.
      I ate turtle meat and also drank and ate the eggs, boiled of course. There is the white ones and the yellow ones. They were delicious. God created all edible fish for our consumption. They are healthy to eat. Writing about it makes my mouth water for some. :)

  10. Good-to-go
    October 5, 2012

    But isn’t it time we start using the sea in a sustainable manner? Shouldn’t we be culling some of these turtles using quotas instead of a blanket ban on hunting them for meat.

    Hunting the eggs is another question and not a wise move from the fishermen. They should allow the eggs to hatch and assist the young ones to get back into the open sea.

    Later these will come back as adults and then the fishermen will be in business.

    And by the way, I believe catching them in open water (sea) is legal.

  11. Pondera
    October 5, 2012

    God gave us dominion over the resources of the earth. Therefore we must carefully craft our laws so as to make the best use of our natural resources. While the Turtle is a great creature to be seen by tourist, natives should also have the opportunity to enjoy the creature on their table. Lets agree on a number of turtles we can harvest each year. The Japanese love whale and Dominicans love Turtle.

  12. Tiger
    October 5, 2012

    When our police officers and politicians stop eating turtles and enforce the law, maybe we the rest of the population will follow suit. You can take my word to the bank on that one. I know what I am talking about.

    The people who are supposed to make and enforce the laws are the biggest perpetrators of these crimes.

    • Homeboy
      October 5, 2012

      I agree with you. Total disregard by those that should be enforcing the regulations. What a shame. And we call ourselves civilized.

  13. Silverdred
    October 5, 2012

    As long as man do not know the most hight . They will eat all flash . On the land

  14. jeff
    October 5, 2012

    and it would be bawi people doing thet SMH

  15. hmmmmmmmr
    October 5, 2012

    but dont understand……. we are in october….from what i know turtles nest in the caribbean between the months of march to early august.. how is it salisbury have turtles nesting in october?????that is very unusual

  16. national pride
    October 5, 2012

    it a shame that we are still not aware of the importance of protecting these animals that travel so far to lay on our beaches. these are the things that eco-tourist enjoy and would like to see….. we say tourism is every body business but we are proving otherwise

  17. October 5, 2012

    these creatures should be protected all times;please dominican please dont hunt or kill the sea turtle.

  18. Teacher
    October 5, 2012

    awwwwwww I love turtles! I dont think that they should be killed senselessly wither. RULES r RULES and LAWS r LAWS> The people who BUY the turtle meat are also to blame for the continued killing of these beautiful creatures! :(

  19. HigherDanDat!
    October 5, 2012

    And for what nuh? Just for some people to brag and say they eat turtle meat.

  20. love
    October 5, 2012

    d a still have those animal nah

    • HigherDanDat!
      October 5, 2012

      you have right to say that because i suspect you are one of those dat buying illegal turtle meat.

    • smh
      October 5, 2012

      u must be living in space air head

  21. Anonymous
    October 5, 2012

    But these savages will be in church on the weekend feeling their are christians. Wait till they face their maker. Just wait.

    • tinz
      October 5, 2012

      God put them there to eat……. i bet you dont think youre a savage when youre eating CHICKEN and or FISH……. the spec in my eye darling. we’re all savages

      • ...
        October 5, 2012

        Please don’t be soo ignorant.

        Turtles are a protected species as they have been hunted close to extinction.

        Ask yourself if you eat the mama turtle and then go cook up her eggs too, will there be more or less turtles next year?

        At least leave the eggs alone if you can’t survive without turtle meat, so the next generation has a chance at least

  22. Trueman
    October 5, 2012

    **WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE**

    That is really UNFORTUNATE!!!
    The The buyers,sellers & consumers of Turtle meat should all be held accountable.

    The “sellers” knows that they have “buyers”. The buyers knows that they have “consumers”.

    We must all be accountable if we are participants in this turtle industry.

    This is really worth our attention “especially” if we really care about our “nature island” claim.

    -Thanks

    • Choice X
      October 5, 2012

      Boss! I not in that ‘we’ ting with you!. If you contributing that’s you but doh drag innocent man down de blame drain with you

  23. grell
    October 5, 2012

    our people have no heart,stiffer penalties are need,these creatures travel for miles to lay there eggs then they are buthchered shameful.

    • HigherDanDat!
      October 5, 2012

      true.

    • Just Saying
      October 6, 2012

      How many people know that? more education is the key here. It’s hard to get people to obey such laws when cost of living is so high. Now I am not saying what they did is right, by no means, but my argument is that, it is hard to get a poor fisherman to comply when in his mind he is only try to provide food on the table for his children.

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