Fourteen sea turtles saved from Chinese poachers

green sea turtle

green sea turtle

Saturday 14th July 2012, a team of Philippine naval and environmental department officials were able to save fourteen out of fifteen endangered sea turtles caught in a net rigged by Chinese poachers. When the authorities arrived, one sea turtle was already dead. The rescue was made possible because of information provided by informants.

There are seven different species of sea turtles on the planet of which three are critically endangered (Leatherback, Hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley), two are endangered (Loggerhead, Green turtle) and two are vulnerable to extinction (Olive ridley, Flatback).  The major threat to the sea turtle population is human interference.  Harvesting eggs for consumption, illegal turtle shell trade, commercial fishing, water pollution, and oil spills all contribute to the species endangered status.

In addition, since six of the seven species of sea turtles all occur in U.S. waters, the marine reptiles are protected under the “Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are under the joint jurisdiction of NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”  The Flatback sea turtle is found only in Australia and is protected under the Australian Commonwealth’s Endangered Species Protection Act as a vulnerable species.

Relations between the Chinese and Philippine governments have become strained when Philippine authorities this past April attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen for catching sea turtles and other marine animals protected under Philippine law.  However, the Chinese government blocked the arrest attempt and both countries seem to be at a standoff since they both claim the coast area.  Major Ferdinand Atos, commander of the naval forces in that area, stated that poachers enter “the waters of Balabac, riding in a speedboat and they plant their nets, using their contacts among the locals”. According the Philippine law, the penalty for catching sea turtles is at least 12 years in prison.

 

For more information about sea turtles follow these links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_turtle#Conservation

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/

 

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