Government is moving steadily in its effort to cease the slaughtering of turtles after Cabinet approved an amendment of the Fisheries Act earlier this week. The amendment seeks to protect Turtles and Turtle eggs under Section 4 Chapter 67:51 of the Act. Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath said the amendment was a landmark piece of legislation which prohibits the killing, harpooning and sale of turtles. Bharath made the disclosure as he delivered the feature address at the commissioning of the upgraded Claxton Bay Fish landing site yesterday. He said: "I wish to announce to you that earlier this week I received Cabinet approval for the amendment to the Protection of Turtle and Turtle Eggs Regulations."
He read the Act which stated: "No person shall, at any time, kill, harpoon, catch or otherwise take possession of any turtle, or purchase, sell, offer or expose for sale or cause to be sold or offered for sale any turtle or turtle meat". He further explained: "As you may be aware, Trinidad and Tobago holds the unique position of having nesting populations of five of the seven species of marine turtles occurring worldwide and has one of the largest nesting populations of leatherback turtles in the world, second only to Africa." Bharath said that all turtles were regarded as critically endangered worldwide according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) to which T&T was a party. "What this therefore means, members of the fishing community, is that no longer can turtles be considered a "by-catch". It is our goal to foster the sustainable use and conservation of fisheries resources, and we urge you to join us," Bharath said.