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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Aug. 27) - The Fisheries Department has allowed turtle meat to be part of the delicacies offered during the Methodist Church of Fiji annual conference that begins in Naduri, Macuata tomorrow. This is despite turtles being on a list of protected species.

The Director of Fisheries Sainaila Nagali said his office had received three separate requests from some members of the Methodist Church in the province seeking to harvest around three turtles for feasting during the three-day conference.

Nagali said he had taken the conservational status of the turtles into account and had recommended to the Fisheries Permanent Secretary to allow the fishing for just one turtle per application. He said he only endorsed the application because the turtles were being sought for traditional purposes and he had reduced the original request by the church members.

Nagali said the Fisheries officers based in Labasa would police the catching of the turtles.

Senior Fisheries Officer North, Apisai Sesewa, said the approval has been granted for catching of the turtles but has referred the matter to the Fisheries Permanent Secretary Niumeia Tabukawai for more details.

But Sesewa said that his officers will monitor the number and size of the catch, and will take samples for use in their conservation program.

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