Tongan authorities seize illegal turtle meat found in shipment at Queen Sālote Wharf

A shipment of illegal sea turtle meat bound for Nuku’alofa has been seized by Tongan authorities.

More than 190 kg had been found in the shipment at Queen Sālote Wharf on Friday last week.

The meat together with shells were deemed illegal because they were not certified by an authorised Fisheries officer.

“Failure to comply, is an offence under the FMA 2002,” a statement said.

The Police are still working on this case, it said.

The Ministry of Fisheries enforcement team along with a Police task force team made the seizure while the MV ‘Otumotuanga’ofa was unloading at the wharf.

It said the ship departed Pangai, Ha’apai and heading straight to Tongatapu before the seizure.

“According to the Fisheries Management Act (FMA)2002, the ban season for turtle is from August to February, but there are also regulations that every person should comply with accordingly. Fisheries Management (Conservation) Regulations 2008; Regulation 24(g) states –
“No person shall possess or sell turtle meat out of the shell, unless it has been certified by an authorised officer that it came from a turtle of legal size.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Fisheries has appealed to the public to avoid violating Fisheries Regulations and Act 2002 to conserve marine resources and to ensure a sustainable fishery for Tonga.

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