Ilocanos urged to stop sale, consumption of endangered sea turtle

LAOAG CITY — The Ilocos Norte government is urging all residents to stop selling and consuming marine turtles and their eggs.

Through the Provincial Fisheries Division, local environment officials said Tuesday they have been monitoring the stretch of the province’s shoreline from Badoc to Pagudpud towns, the species’ usual nesting area.

Provincial Fishery Regulatory Officer Arthur Valent said his office had received reports from concerned citizens that some locals continue to gather sea turtle eggs despite a national law requiring the conservation and protection of this endangered species.

Republic Act No. 9147 provides for the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and their habitats. Valente warned that violators of this environment law will be fined as much as PHP300,000 and face a jail term of as much as four years.

“Marine sea turtles often lay their eggs from dusk till dawn and the peak season is from November to March,” he said. “There had been reports from the ground that egg sales and consumption still continue, and this must be stopped immediately.”

Valente said Ilocos Norte has at least three types of sea turtles — the olive ridley, hawksbill, and green sea turtles, which are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as “vulnerable and critically endangered.”

Illegal fishing practices have also threatened endangered sea turtles, whose shells are used as decorative materials.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora outlaws the capture and trade of sea turtles and their products.