Sea turtle slaughter in Vieux Fort under investigation by law enforcement agencies
The Saint Lucia National Trust is working together with the Department of Fisheries, the Marine Police Unit and the Crime Scene Investigation Unit of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force in response to the slaughter of a nesting hawksbill sea turtle.
The incident occurred early Tuesday morning and comes during the closed season for turtle hunting. It was reported by beach security staff to the National Trust’s sea turtle monitoring team which regularly patrols the beaches of Pointe Sable Environmental Protection Area along the south-east coast.
“The protection of critically endangered sea turtles is a high priority within the Pointe Sable Environmental Protection Area. For the last two years we’ve been working with partners in other government agencies, in the Police Force, the private sector and the community to ensure that sea turtles can nest safely on our shores,” commented Mr. Craig Henry, Programme Officer for the Saint Lucia National Trust.
“With the closed season for turtles extending from January 1 to September 30, 2016, we are right in the middle of the most important time for sea turtle nesting,” he explained.
Under the regulations in force, it is illegal to catch or slaughter turtles, including nesting turtles, or to be in possession of their meat, eggs or other products. A person who violates the Fisheries Regulations can be fined $5,000 for each offence.
“Fisheries Regulations exist in order to protect our natural resources for the long term,” explained Mr. Thomas Nelson, Deputy Chief Fisheries Officer. “As a nation we depend heavily on marine resources and only through full compliance with closed seasons, licensing requirements, and marine protected area regulations can we ensure sustainable use and the future livelihoods upon which our communities depend.”
Head of the sea turtle monitoring team, Mr. Vincent ‘Jeg’ Clarke, confirmed that tracks showed the female turtle was in the process of laying her eggs when the perpetrators dragged her to an isolated area to carry out the slaughter. He also confirmed that the poachers made off with the culled meat and mature eggs, leaving behind more than a hundred undeveloped eggs, a carcass and other evidence.
Meanwhile Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, the hotel bordering the beach where the turtle was killed, says it condemns in the strongest manner the slaughter of the sea turtle. The resort’s management and staff are deeply saddened at this development and call upon perpetrators to desist from such acts of savagery which are detrimental to our image as a destination and the sustainability of the marine turtle fisheries. The resort will be increasing its monitoring and surveillance with immediate effect in order to minimise the recurrence of similar incidents in the future.
The Saint Lucia National Trust has also condemned this act and encourages anyone with information which could lead to the arrest of the perpetrators to contact the local police in Vieux Fort. The National Trust is also appealing to the general public to support conservation efforts to protect sea turtles islandwide. For more information on these conservation initiatives please contact the National Trust at 454-5014 or the Department of Fisheries at 468-4741. Contact can also be made via email: email@example.com.
The crime scene where the carcass of a slaughtered nesting hawksbill sea turtle was discovered.