There is a disturbing report of poaching of endangered sea turtles in southern Belize. The incident is reported to have happened around the middle of last month; but a just released report by the Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment, TIDE, paints the horrific slaughter of three of the endangered creatures.
According to reports from TIDE, members of the organization, accompanied by an officer from the Belize Fisheries Department went to an area to confirm the report of a turtle head being found. At the site, a total of three carcasses were found and identified, two Logger Head and the other, a Green turtle. According to the report from TIDE, the fisheries officer questioned several individuals who lived in the vicinity of the carcasses.
Locals reported that the day prior to the discovery, some men in a grey pickup truck had dumped the butchered sea turtle remains in the nearby bushes. Hearing this, the officer reportedly had suspicions about some local fishermen who lived nearby. A driveway where the fishermen lives confirmed that he could be the culprit as he had a turtle net drying out in his front yard.
The Fisheries Department, according to the TIDE report, conducted a search at the house of the suspect and found three pounds of frozen sea turtle meat. The suspect’s turtle net and the turtle meat were confiscated for use as evidence. As it was his first offence, the perpetrator, whose name has not been released, has been charged five hundred dollars, which is exactly half of the maximum penalty provided for under Belize Fisheries laws.
In Belize, as well as across the globe, sea turtles face many threats; in fact, two out of three of the species found in Belize are considered “Endangered” by the World Conservation Union. The Belize fisheries laws on Sea turtles states, “No person shall interfere with any turtle nest, no person shall take any species of sea turtles, no person shall buy, sell or have in his possession any articles made of sea turtles.” LOVETV