PALAU ENACTS HAWKSBILL TURTLE MORATORIUM

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Five-year ban necessary for conservation of species

By Jose Se̱ase SAIPAN, CNMI Islands (Marianas Variety, Jan. 4, 2011) РIn Palau, President Johnson Toribiong signed into law the bill imposing a five-year moratorium on the taking of hawksbill turtles.

"This is another step forward in our collective efforts and commitment to strengthen our conservation and environment policies," Toribiong said.

The bill was introduced by Delegate Kalistus Ngirturong in 2009.

The reduced presence of turtles as attraction for dives and snorkeling was among the reasons cited by Ngirturong in introducing his bill.

The new law, RPPL 8-23, states that no sea turtle of any species "shall be taken or killed except when the shell is at least 34 inches when measured over the top of the carapace shell lengthwise." The taking of turtle eggs is also prohibited.

The law further states that it is illegal to take or kill a sea turtle from the first day of May or from the first day of December to the 31st day of January.

Any person violating the provisions "shall be imprisoned for a period not exceeding one year or fined not more than US$500 for each specimen taken or killed."

The Hawksbill sea turtle, or Eretmochelys imbricate, is a critically endangered sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae. The species has a worldwide distribution, with Atlantic and Pacific subspecies. E. imbricata imbricata is the Atlantic subspecies, while E. imbricata bissa is found in the Indo-Pacific region.

Human fishing practices threaten E. imbricata populations with extinction. The World Conservation Union classifies the Hawksbill as critically endangered. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) outlaws the capture and trade of hawksbill sea turtles and products derived from them.

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