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Des Barras Turtle Watch Programme Under Threat

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Friday, September 22, 2006 – Poachers of the leather back turtles on the Grande Anse Beach are threatening the livelihood of those who gain a source of income from the Des Barras Turtle Watch Programme.

The Department of Fisheries says recently a number of alarming reports has reached the department, informing that turtles are being hunted and destroyed at the beach, well known as a turtle watching attraction site.

However the department laments that this is not the first time such activity has been brought to their attention, despite regular advisories over the media to educate people on turtle conservation.

Chief Fisheries Officer Vaughn Charles says this is a worrying development. “We have received these reports before and we have attempted to address them through the surveillance officers within our ministry and assistance from the marine police and the district police. Recently there were a number of tours being provided by the Des Barras community, the Des Barras tour guides- they had the turtle watch programmes along with the Saint Lucia Heritage Programme but that has since been disrupted by those poachers who come onto the beach in search of nestling turtles.

To compound this problem, Mr. Charles says naturally the turtle population is in grave danger of being seriously depleted once the cycle of reproduction is interrupted.

“ It creates a problem in terms of the sustainability of that resource because there has to be a certain level of rejuvenation and that does not take place. We have indicated to those persons who are involved in that practice that it's against the law, it's in contravention of Fisheries Regulations No.9 of 1994 and there's a fine. You can be fined $5,000.00.”

The Fisheries Department says based on its investigations the killing of the turtles seems be motivated mainly by mischief – makers rather than persons seeking some form of economic benefit.

Those persons are being asked to desist from this practice.

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