There are 3 main issues playing in Indonesia regarding the protection for sea turtles.
1. The ongoing pollution of the ocean and nesting beaches
2. Badly managed hatcheries for tourism
3. The slaughter of sea turtles for consumption and commercial trading of the shells
JAAN finds the proper solution for the first 2 points; to keep lobbying the Government for stricter regulations and fight beach pollution, especially in fragile reef islands scattered in isolated areas in Indonesia. Education is the key to a brighter future therefore JAAN remains very active in educational programs and activities.
We are now tackling the very serious and underestimated 3rd point, which is the slaughter of sea turtles for their meat/shells and the collection of sea turtle eggs for consumption in Flores, Eastern Indonesia.
After JAAN in collaboration with the National Police Department confiscated over 130 kgs of sea turtle meat and sea turtle shells in 2015, which were destined for international trade, we realized that these sea turtles are captured in Eastern Indonesia, therefore we started to investigate during November 2015 until the current present.
We obtained proof of sea turtle slaughter and exploitation on Lembata Island and the selling of sea turtle shells as tourist souvenirs at various tourist shops, including at the airports.
Lembata formerly known as Lomblen Island. It is the largest island of the Solor Archipelago in the Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia. It forms a separate regency of the province of Nusa Tenggara Timur. The length of the island is about 80 km from the southwest to the northeast and the width is about 30 km from the west to the east. It rises to a height of 1,533 metres.
Lembata has a very rich fauna, both terrestrial AND marine. Dugongs, blue whales, manta rays, dolphins, and four species of sea turtles are just some of the species to be reported to be found in its waters.
A hot spot for the sea turtle trade has proved to be Lembata Island. The selling of shells, eggs and meat of sea turtles has been documented by JAAN in December 2015 and again in January 2016.
Until today, no NGO has any presence on the island. In January 2016 when we performed our educational show through the schools on the island, the response was very positive even on a Governmental level. JAAN was asked to stay by the Mayor, to build a more permanent program to help seek solutions for the current problems concerning the exploitation of marine life.
Problems include also dynamite fishing and the killing of marine mammals.
Sea turtle slaughter was happening around the main nesting sites, openly. There are four species of sea turtles reported by the local people to be living in the waters around Lembata.
JAAN will strive to start an educational center in the near future on the island where people can learn about the importance to protect the whole marine ecosystem.
In January 2016 JAAN met the mayor of Lembata Island who has agreed to protect the main sea turtle nesting area and collaborate with JAAN.
JAAN also met with fishermen in Loang area, one of the main nesting sites located on the 20 kilometer long white sandy beach area, who explained to us that they would find in their village area alone every night 20 – 30 nests. Now, the number has decreased to an average of 10 nests found per day. Every day, local villagers search for sea turtle eggs for consumption and to be sold on the local fishmarket. Sea turtles of all species are slaughtered for their meat.
Continuous presence and positve collaboration with the local community is needed to avoid future slaughter of sea turtles.
Not only are sea turtle eggs being sought on the daily by local fishermen but live sea turtles are also captured when they come to the beach arrive to lay their eggs.
Since March 2016, with the support of Orangutan Hilfe, we have started the program. JAAN has a great permanent team onsite to patrol the beaches, study the sea turtle species and nests, and to work on educational activities in the local villages around the nesting sites where sea turtles were butchered brutally. The Turtle Foundation has also kindly assisted in this program by sending their expertise staff to help train the local staff in sea patrol monitoring and species identification.
This program is ongoing and we are committed to see a total end to the sea turtle killings.
Minister of Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti has visited the site in June 2016 and witnessed the effectiveness of the program. School children have also started to come and visit the site with their teachers on organized trips in to learn about the importance to save and protect marine life.
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