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Motorized Watercraft Killing TCI Sea Turtles

The Hawksbill Turtles is the most commonly observed in TCI waters

Due to the frequent reports of an increased number of turtles being killed or injured by motorized watercraft, the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) is renewing its call for precautionary measures for those operators and their guests.

The DECR theorized that one of the primary reasons for turtle deaths, and or injuring stem from speeding inside the water parks, and as such, they are advising the relevant parties to exercise responsibility within those areas.

“The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) has recently had to respond to a number of reports of injured or dead sea turtle. Upon further investigation it has been evident that these creatures have succumbed to injuries sustained by speeding vessels,” the DECR said in a statement.

The statement continued: “The Department would like to take this opportunity to remind all motorised vessel operators that speed limits, particularly within the confines of the National Parks systems, are strictly to be adhered to for the safety of guests, non-motorised vessels (such as kayakers) and importantly, the safety of the sea creatures.”

According to the DECR, because sea turtle are required to regularly come up for air, they are vulnerable to speeding vessel strikes.

“These strikes are often fatal or gravely harm the animal. Tour and vessel operators rely on the natural environment as the main source of their livelihood and as such the Department would like to encourage that responsible boating be priortisied to ensure environmental stewardship and sustainable interaction with the natural environment,” the DECR further stated.

In the meantime, the DECR is advising water sports operators, their guests and the general public to not attempt to couch any turtle encountered on land or at sea, noting that turtle nesting or hatchlings, injured or dead turtles should be reported to the DECR.

The Green and Hawksbill Turtles are the most commonly observed in TCI waters. Under the Fisheries Protection Ordinance 5 of 1941 (amended), the Hawksbill closed season is from August 1 to March 31.

The ordinance stated that only Green and Hawksbill Turtles between 18 and 24 inches shell length may be captured, as there shall be no capture of other species, nesting turtles or collection of turtle eggs. The ordinance also stated that turtles should not be kept in captivity.

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