By Luke Rawalai
Turtles continued to be slaughtered despite protective legislation with some villagers unnecessarily seeking approval to eat the marine creatures during functions.
Speaking to villagers on the island of Galoa, Bua, Fisheries officer Ului Tuinamata said the number of sea turtles was dropping rapidly with some species on the verge of extinction.
He said some people were slaughtering turtles for trivial events.
"We hear of turtles being slaughtered every now and then for occasions which are very minor in nature in comparison to the dangerous position these poor creatures are in with regards to their numbers," said Mr Tuinamata.
"Slaughtering of sea turtles is illegal and it is only approved for traditional functions, which has to be applied for in writing prior to any traditional event."
"Applications are forwarded to the provincial or district offices who will then direct the application to the Minister for Primary Industries for his approval," he said.
Mr Tuinamata said the processing of permits took 14 days and that people needed to work within these procedures.
"People need to realise that our turtle numbers are rapidly dropping and to appreciate the value of these creatures including the vari voce (sea wrasse), dairo (bech-de-mer). They should think of the future and contribute to their sustainability," he said.
"We continue to receive applications to slaughter turtles for minor events. While we do not allow them and there are processes in place, the onus is still on natural resource owners to ensure that they are strictly followed to ensure the future existence of these innocent creatures," he said.
The fisheries officer was part of a touring government delegation.
He also said there was a need to establish an active network with villagers to allow for the monitoring of sea turtles.