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BNT condemns killing of sea turtles in Grand Bahama
By Bahamas National Trust
Mar 16, 2018 - 6:00:59 PM

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The Bahamas National Trust condemns the killing of the sea turtle in Grand Bahama.  We commend the officers of the various agencies who coordinated the arrest of the three people responsible for the capture and brutal slaughter of a loggerhead turtle last week in Grand Bahama.

The 2009 ban on the harvest of sea turtles was enacted to protect these species, all of which are endangered. The effort led jointly by several NGOs with the support of the Bahamian public is part of a global conservation effort to protect these charismatic animals.

Sea turtles are highly migratory and are threatened globally. Those found in The Bahamas, spend only a portion of their lives here. They travel far and wide, spending different parts of their lives in the territorial waters of different nations. The ban therefore, not only protects sea turtles in The Bahamas, but also sea turtles throughout the globe especially in those in the Caribbean, United States, and Bermuda. In many of these countries, they are also protected and are an important contributor to local economies by providing excellent eco-tourism opportunities.

Despite public outcry, it is evident that we still need to do more education on the importance of sea turtles. In sentencing, the magistrate missed an opportunity to send a clear message that this is a serious offense. Many citizens felt that the conditional discharge of 500 hours of community service was too lenient. Fisheries regulations allow for a much stronger penalty to have been issued. Offenders could have received a fine of $3,000, one year imprisonment or both. Perhaps, at the very least, the perpetrators of this egregious act should have been made to spend the time, in service to the environment.

While the BNT respects the discretion of the magistrate in deciding penalties, we are disappointed with the decision. All around the world, humans have driven sea turtle populations to the brink of extinction. Unintended catch, or “bycatch,” of sea turtles in commercial fisheries, poaching of sea turtles and their eggs, coastal development, trade of sea turtles and their parts and poor enforcement of conservation laws all have contributed to the worldwide decline of their populations.

The recent public outrage by citizens shows the the importance of an informed citizenry in the enforcement of our fisheries regulations.  The BNT encourages members of the public to learn the fisheries regulations, and to continue reporting offenses to the Department of Marine Resources.  

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