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Confiscation and Release of Wildlife in Calabash Bight

Updated: Jun 24

Confiscation and Release of Wildlife in Calabash Bight

Our office has received continuous reports of supposed "turtle sanctuaries" on the island's East End that claim to save turtles from hungry fishermen and then charge tourists to handle them. These locations have caused a demand for fishermen to capture turtles to sell to these tourist attractions, with one location having over a dozen in their pen. Facebook was flooded with photos of happy tourists holding the turtles and tours taking visitors to these sanctuaries.

But these tourists were not aware that they were handling a protected species illegally kept. For several months, RMP actively engaged  with authorities through consistent meetings, site visits and the submission of information for the preparation of these incident reports. These efforts were all done with the aim to ensure that authorities had the necessary information to effectively address these incidents.

At the end of April, representatives of the Inter-Institutional Task Force against Environmental Crime and the Bay Islands National Marine Park Technical Committee

confiscated  20 red cushion starfish, 17 green and two hawksbill turtles from two of these sanctuaries in the Calabash Bight area.

These locations were illegally keeping protected species without permission from the authorities. They were driving demand for an unsustainable industry, claiming that they were rescuing and releasing turtles that would have otherwise inevitably been eaten. Donations from happy tourists fueled these businesses and it was  only a matter of time before more operations were established.

We are very pleased that the authorities led the release of the 19 turtles. If you visit any of these so-called turtle sanctuaries, we implore you to report them immediately.  It’s important that these endangered species are relocated to safer parts of the island where they are less likely to be immediately recaptured after being habituated to humans from the constant handling while in the pens. Our reefs and their inhabitants need constant protection, and we need your assistance in preserving the rich biodiversity of our marine environments.

Wildlife in Calabash Bight

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