Preventing Leatherback Slaughter
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) have today written to the Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh appealing to him to reconsider his decision to refuse Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) permission to patrol marine turtle nesting areas during the 2021 turtle nesting season.
This decision is devoid of any sound logic and contrary to the promotion of a sustainable eco-tourism industry and the protection of our environmentally sensitive marine turtles.
For decades civic minded CBO’s have patrolled these beaches to fill the void left by our Authorities. It was confirmed in 2020 that as a result of the implementation of Covid 19 Regulations and the lack of patrolling by CBO’s there was an upsurge in poaching and marine turtle destruction. The obligations of our Authorities along with their minimal resources limits their efforts to protect these vulnerable and voiceless Environmentally Sensitive Species (ESS) which depend on our CBOs for their continued survival. The surveillance groups are not frolicking or casually visiting the beach. Their work is critical and commendable, and will pose no threat to Public Health.
FFOS warn that another year without any patrols and added protection may reverse the positive steps taken by our Government to protect these critically important species. Conservation efforts by Nature Seekers and other civic minded CBO’s over the past thirty years have led to the Leatherback turtle being downgraded from a “critically endangered” to “vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of species. Must we lose this progress now?
FFOS publically urge Minister Deyalsingh to reconsider his position and gently remind him that in addition to these marine turtles being protected internationally and locally, rural communities all across Trinidad and Tobago, depend on turtle nesting and the eco-tourism industry as their source of income. These communities have voluntarily engaged in nightly patrols to deter poachers and protect these ESS. These patrols are important aspect of our national development and have safeguarded and protected these vulnerable species while protecting our country’s million-dollar eco-tourism industry.
Our voiceless depend on our Authorities to act with a balanced perspective. Until and unless our Government has the capacity to protect these internationally recognized species FFOS call on Minister Deyalsingh to permit the Civil Society Beach Patrols until our Government Agencies are able to protect these vulnerable species. The banning of midnight beach patrols makes absolutely no sense and will encourage an escalation of illegal poaching.
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea