The public is being warned to refrain from capturing undersized turtles, Leatherback Sea-Turtle and Loggerhead Sea–Turtles.
Undersized means turtles that have a shell-length less than 24 inches for Green Turtles and less than 15 inches for the Hawksbill.
The warning comes amid two video clips our news centre has seen which shows large sea turtles that were reportedly captured in the BVI recently. One of the clips shows a man who lined the turtles on their backs and then counted them. They numbered 15 in total.
It’s unclear how many of the large turtles in the video are protected species.
The second video clip shows law enforcement officers releasing large turtles into the ocean. Despite reports, BVI News has not confirmed if the two videos are related.
However, the clips have sparked a response from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries which said the capture of the above-mentioned turtles is illegal even during the turtle season which runs from December 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021.
Director of Agriculture & Fisheries, Mr Theodore James has said his department was made aware of a video in circulation regarding the illegal capture of seven Green sea turtles which have since been rescued and released.
Mr James said investigations into the matter are ongoing and is reminding the public that the named turtles should not be removed from the waters, sold or purchased.
“A person licenced to fish in the Territory by the department must be approved to capture turtles within their licence conditions. Not all licenced fishers possess this approval and buyers are responsible to inquire to ensure that intended purchases are legal,” he stated.
To report illegal fishing, persons can contact the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries at 468-6123/6124.
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