Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Peak period for sea turtle nesting ends…baby turtles are at risk, NEPA warns

Published:Friday | December 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Sea turtle

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is reminding the public that disturbing or harming sea turtle hatchlings, which may now be emerging on beaches around the island and on the offshore cays, is against the law.

Sea turtles visit the shores of Jamaica all year to nest. However, the majority of the nesting activities occur during the period June to November each year. Now that the peak nesting season has ended, hatchlings may be seen emerging and making their way to the sea. Hatchlings are particularly vulnerable during this period and special care must be taken not to disturb them.

Members of the public are urged to continue beach cleanup activities to remove garbage that may obstruct the passage of the hatchlings and also to avoid illuminating beaches at nights, as lights disorient both adults and hatchlings.

In a press release yesterday, NEPA said all species of sea turtle are protected under the Wild Life Protection Act, 1945 and the Endangered Species (Protection, Conservation and Regulation of Trade) Act, 2000.

It is an offence to have sea turtles in one's possession, whether whole or part, dead or alive. This includes adult turtles, hatchlings, shells, meat, eggs and all other turtle products (for example, turtle shell craft items or jewellery).

Persons found in possession of turtles or any of these items can be fined up to $100,000 or imprisoned for up to one year.

Persons who wish to report sightings may contact NEPA's toll-free (1-888-991-5005) weekdays, 8:30a.m. - 4:30p.m.

Offences must be reported promptly to the nearest police station.