Turtle fishing attracts $5000 fine

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) has warned members of the public that anyone found to be engaged in the commercial fishing of turtles will face fines up to $5,000.

The warning was issued in a public notice signed by the Ministry’s Chief Executive Officer, Ulu Bismarck Crawley.

Marine turtles in Samoa have a conservation status and are protected and managed under Samoan law known as the Marine Wildlife Protection Regulations of 2009.

“In accordance with these regulations, it is an offence if any person: undertakes any activity related to the commercial fishing of turtles,” read the notice," states the public notice.

The ban includes anyone who takes, catches or fishes for turtles in Samoa’s territorial sea or Exclusive Economic Zone (E.E.Z.).

Fishing for or deliberately taking any turtles and failing to release them is strictly prohibited. 

This also involves those who fail to report the accidental capture of a turtle to the Ministry's Division of Environment and Conservation.

Other bans include the unlawful keeping of a turtle in captivity; removing a female turtle migrating to egg-laying grounds; taking a nesting female turtle; interfering with or disturbing any turtle nest or eggs; and or taking and possessing eggs.

The sale or purchase of any turtle, egg, shells or by-products is also prohibited through the payment of a fine not exceeding $5,000.

But the law does allow an exemption if (a green or hawksbill) turtle is caught or taken for subsistence purposes or consumption; traditional purposes; taken for scientific purposes related to conservation, health or the welfare of that turtle under regulations. 

But it is a must for any person who captures, injures or kills by accident a marine turtle in a fishing activity to report the incident to the Division of the Environment and Conservation of the M.N.R.E.

The Sui o le Nuu/Malo (Sui Tamaitai o le Nuu) [Government representative within villages] is tasked with reporting to the M.N.R.E. any turtle that is killed or held in captivity (other than a green or hawksbill turtle taken for consumption or for traditional purposes).

The M.N.R.E. has urged the community to work together with the Ministry to conserve, protect and manage these critically endangered marine species.

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