Sea turtle poachers risk being caught, brought before Nevisian court, fined hefty sums of money
Members of the public must stop interfering with sea turtles which come to the island’s shores to nest or risk being caught, arrested, taken before the court and fined hefty sums of money.
The warning comes from Lemuel Pemberton, Deputy Director of Marine Resources in the Department of Marine Resource in Nevis when he spoke to the Department of Information just hours after another incident involving a nesting turtle at Cades Bay.
“This is an offence under the Fisheries and Marine Resources Act 2016 and the Fisheries Regulation of 2002, and can result in you being fined and possibly even your vehicle being confiscated. The fine is $5,000 in the first place for one of the infringements of the law, and you are maybe infringing several of these laws at the same time like, for example disturbing a nesting turtle that is $5,000.
“If you are charged multiple offences – disturbing a nesting turtle is one; taking the eggs that’s another; interfering with a sea turtle on the beach that could be another as well. So there are several offences that you can be charged with. So we are encouraging persons not to interfere with nesting turtles because it’s a targeted fishery if you want to call it that, and it can result in the population in and around the island wiped out,” he said.
Mr. Pemberton explained that in the most recent incident at Cades Bay about 10:30 p.m. on October 10, in the vicinity of Marina’s Pub, members of the Nevis Turtle Group while on a turtle monitoring mission stumbled on the scene of a nesting turtle being taken from the area.
“The volunteers found a sea turtle tied up. It was dragged maybe 100 yards along the beach…The volunteers approached the area, and in approaching the area they saw a vehicle packed in the background. However, they didn’t see anybody, and they were not close enough to the vehicle so they could not see the number, most likely the persons that would have poached the turtle.
“The police almost caught them. As a matter of fact, the police were in the area and just came in probably a few seconds too late to catch them in the act of actually catching the turtle. So the turtle was freed and tagged and returned to the ocean,” he said.
The marine resources official said the incident was the most recent in a number of incidents concerning turtles over the last month and a half. In one case a turtle was poached, in another the eggs were taken, and in another some turtles were killed by dogs. During that period at least six turtles have been lost.
Mr. Pemberton advised Nevisians to take note of vehicles anywhere close to nesting beaches during the night.