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Sea Turtles Endangered By Artisanal Fishing In Tanzania, Protection Laws Not Enforced Effectively; Research And Information About Marine Turtles Limited Or Non-Existent

By Staff Reporter | August 19, 2013 11:18 AM EDT

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Sea turtles are threatened by ongoing artisanal fishing, due to incidental by-catch of sea turtles by fisherman in Tanzania, All Africa reports, despite efforts to conserve and monitor the threatened marine turtles in the country. Research and information about the marine turtles is lacking in Tanzania.

Sea turtles are considered a delicacy by many coastal communities. The Sea Sense Director, Ms Lindsey West exclusively told the "Daily News on Saturday" in an email interview that the sea turtles are protected under national fisheries legislation, according to All Africa.

But West said laws are not enforced effectively and trade in turtle products, such as meat, shells, oil, and eggs, is commonplace.

"There are also low levels of awareness in coastal communities of the important role of sea turtles in the wider marine ecosystem," she said.

Sea turtles also face another danger: coastal development. West explained that coastal development has caused the loss of several nesting beaches, particularly in Zanzibar. Foraging and breeding habitats are being compromised by illegal and destructive fishing practices such as beach seines and dynamite fishing.

All Africa reports that, according to the Indian Ocean - South East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding website, information about sea turtle population dynamics is incomplete, as well as knowledge of nesting populations and feeding habitats. Developmental habitats of the turtles is almost non-existent, AllAfrica.com notes. This is despite the fact that conservation and management of marine turtles have been underway since the 1990s.

On the other hand, during this year's "World Turtle Day" on May 23, one of the world's leading luxury experiential travel companies posted a press release on their website celebrating the hatching of over 50,000 eggs in Mnemba Island Marine Conservation Area in Zanzibar, All Africa reports.

"With an average of 34 turtles nesting on the island each year and approximately 100 hatchlings per nest, more than 50,000 turtles have been born on Mnemba in the past fifteen years. As few predators are encountered on the island, more than 90 per cent of these hatchlings reach the sea safely," the release read. 

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