Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Environment: Sea turtles safe in Cuba

Environment News Service (ENS) reports that Cuba has banned the harvesting of all marine turtle species and products from its beaches and seas for an indefinite period, according to a Ministry of Fisheries Ministerial Resolution. The move extends hope for survival of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, which feeds in Cuban waters.

Conservationists praised the resolution which they say will benefit all the Caribbean's endangered marine turtles - greens, loggerheads, and hawksbills. Greens and loggerheads are considered endangered, while hawksbills are critically endangered, according to the Red List of Threatened Species complied by the IUCN-World Conservation Union.

"For many years, Cuba retained a legal fishery of 500 hawksbills a year, with the hope of being able to trade their shells internationally," said Dr. Susan Lieberman, director of WWF International's Species Programme, which worked with the Cuban and Canadian governments to establish the new policy.

The phaseout of the marine turtle fishery in Cuba is the result of a joint effort by WWF and the Cuban Ministry of Fisheries, with financial support from the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA.