Tagged turtles released
By LITIA MATHEWSELL
A Ridge to Reef initiative by the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests saw the release of three hawksbill turtles at waters off Viwa Island in Lautoka on Friday.
Minister of Primary Industries Joketani Cokanasiga and Minister for Youth and Sports Commander Viliame Naupoto released the three turtles into the ocean whilst accompanied by officials the Fisheries department and Mamanuca Environment Society (MES).
The largest of the turtles was a tagged hawksbill sea turtle accidently caught by a Lovu fisherman two weeks after its tag and release from Vomo Island by the MES.
Mohammed Ashik caught the hawksbill in the Yasawa Islands and handed the creature to the Fisheries Department in Lautoka, who exhibited the creature at the Crest Agriculture Show 2012.
The turtle grew to 33 centimeters in length and 30 centimeters in width whilst in the care of the department.
Fisheries department director Sanaila Naqali said the tagging and releasing of the turtles was an essential strategy in keeping track of the endangered species and would aid them in identifying sanctuaries for turtles to breed in during their mating season.
“This is also for the public’s awareness on how we view the conservation and management of turtles in Fiji because if these creatures are not managed the way we want it to be, it won’t be sustainable and therefore we won’t be meeting the objectives of our Ministry , which is to ensure our resources are used sustainably,’’ he said.
MrNaqali said they were also keeping a close tab on poachers of turtle meat and reiterated that those wishing to consume the delicacy for traditional functions must first make applications to their department.