Friday, July 24, 2009

Turtle Poachers Arrested... but bailed.....

From newspaper article in Seychelles Nation (22/07/09)

Two men have been arrested but released on bail after they were caught red-handed at Bel Ombre with turtle meat, spear guns and illegally-killed fish.

Both men are from Green Estate, Anse Aux Pins, and are aged 30 and 42. Department of Environment officers said yesterday they have been trying for more than 10 years to prosecute one of the men for poaching turtle meat.

Officials examine the confiscated speargun, equipment and catch at Police HQ, photo courtesy Nation

The officials confirmed they received a tip-off on the department’s GreenLine at around 5.45pm last Friday and responded with the help of Beau Vallon police.

During the arrests the police seized 7.95 kilos of turtle meat, 12.85 kilos of fish that had been illegally killed by spear guns, and equipment consisting of spear-gun, mask, snorkels, fins, rope and knives. Under Seychelles law it is illegal to kill a turtle, or to possess, sell, buy or eat its meat.

Freelance conservation consultant Dr Jeanne Mortimer told the newspaper that there is a popular misconception that it is legal to eat turtle meat.

“It is illegal to possess turtle meat in any form,” she said. “If someone is eating it, then that person is also guilty of possession, so he or she can definitely be arrested and charged”. So for people who think it is OK as long as they are only eating turtle meat, they are informed that this is not the case and they will be committing a crime punishable by law.

“Offences involving sea turtles can carry a fine of R500,000 or two years’ imprisonment.” The public are reminded that it is also illegal to kill fish and other marine life using spear guns.

Meanwhile, the police investigation into the case continues.

NOTE – Based on MCSS observations, one of the suspects has been operating in the South of Mahe since 2004. Indeed the same individual was responsible for killing Carol’s “satellite tag-twin”, the second turtle tagged with a satellite tag by MCSS in December 2007.

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