Maldives IOSEA Focal Point, Ms. Khadeeja Ali, reports that over the past few months some changes have taken place in marine turtle legislation of the Maldives.
"We have now moved from periodic moratoriums to a complete ban on turtle harvesting for an indefinite period of time, in other words, turtles are declared as a protected species under the Environment Law of the Maldives. Since all endangered species now come under the Environment Law, having marine turtles under this law would provide more effective protection and stringent penalties.
The mandate for protecting turtles has been moved to Environment Ministry. With the new legislation, a nation-wide ban on turtle egg harvesting has also been declared for an indefinite period of time. Previously under the Fisheries Law, egg harvesting was prohibited from 14 important nesting islands for 10 years. We believe this is a major accomplishment in marine turtle conservation in the Maldives."
A review report on the status of marine turtles with policy recommendations was presented to the relevant ministries earlier this year. The report is available for download here.
Khadeeji continues: "This year has so far proved an important year for turtles. In past decades we have done very little outreach to island communities. This year, for the first time ever, we have had festivals to raise awareness on turtle conservation. The first one took place in April 2016 in Laamu atoll, where a tourist resort and island community hosted the event. A second turtle festival took place in June, in Lhaviyani atoll, where an NGO took on the initiative and hosted the event with assistance from a tourist resort from the same atoll.
Both of these atolls are considered important for marine turtles, especially green turtles. This was also highlighted in the status review."