The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force is currently investigating why a Hawksbill sea turtle was on a minibus, heading away from its natural habitat at a time when the season for hunting turtles is closed.
It was on Thursday June 24, 2021 when the Department of Fisheries was alerted by the Soufriere Police Station to the interception of a Minibus carrying a live sea turtle. The Department confirmed that the animal was an adult hawksbill sea turtle and in coordination with the Soufriere Marine Management Association Inc., the sea turtle was successfully returned to the sea.
The Fisheries Department advises the public of the widespread circulation of the captured video clip which features the adult hawksbill turtle being transported on a wheelbarrow by authorized personnel for its safe return to sea.
The Department of Fisheries reminds members of the public that the sea turtle fishery is closed and it is an offence to have a sea turtle in their possession when the fishery is closed.
Further, the sea turtle nesting period which runs from March 01 to November 30, 2021 is ongoing. Members of the public are further reminded that in accordance with the Regulation 33 (1)(b) of the Fisheries Act, Cap 7.15 of the Revised Laws of Saint Lucia, it is an offence to interfere with any nesting sea turtle or their eggs.
In an effort to ensure the survival of the sea turtle population, the Fisheries Department is calling on the general public to adhere to the following guidelines:
1. Stay away from nesting sea turtles;
2. Avoid driving on sea turtle nesting beaches;
3. Avoid using lights when a sea turtles is observed nesting;
4. Avoid handling hatchlings (baby sea turtles);
5. Do not take, handle or touch sea turtle eggs;
6. Keep all pets, large items, ropes, nets and garbage off the beach;
Anyone caught interfering with nesting sea turtles and their nests or are in possession of a sea turtle, their meat or eggs is liable to a maximum fine of EC$5000.00 per offence.
The public is encouraged to report all sea turtle nesting activity by contacting the Department of Fisheries at 468 4135, 468 4141 or 725 1722 or the nearest police station.