Chair, Board of Directors
Kyle Mitchell, President
P.O. Box 4536 Sangre Grande
Office: (868) 668-7337
Cell: (868) 398-3038
Save Our Sea Turtles (SOS)
P.O. Box 27
Rep. of Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 328-7351
Game Warden I
Department of Natural
Resources & Environment
Tobago House of Assembly
Glen Road (P.O. Box 5566)
Rep. Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 735-4369 (direct)
The Wildlife Unit of the Dept. of Natural Resources & the Environment, THA has the responsibilities for Wildlife Management which include:
. Sea Turtle Conservation via Outreach and Education, Monitoring, and Protection by Game Wardens through Enforcement of the Conservation of Wildlife Act chap. 67:01.
. Encourage the development of new Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and provide technical support to current CBOs
. Provide training development through Workshops
Bräutigam, A. and K. L. Eckert. 2006. Turning the Tide: Exploitation, Trade and Management of Marine Turtles in the Lesser Antilles, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK.
From a legislative standpoint, the conservation of marine turtles in Trinidad and Tobago is hampered by a jurisdictional conflict between two different pieces of legislation, one that provides complete protection and the other that establishes an open season permitting the killing of turtles during five months of the year. This conflict gives rise to confusion as to the rules that apply and, thus, the protections afforded and by whose authority. In 2004, in a court matter related to marine turtles, the presiding magistrate ruled that the Fisheries Act takes precedence over the Wildlife Act, owing to the fact that it specifically names marine turtles and the Wildlife Act does not (S. Poon and N. Nathai-Gyan, Forestry Division-Wildlife Section, in litt., 30 August 2004).
The Conservation of Wild Life Act (Act 16 of 1958, amended by Act 14 of 1963), Chapter 67:01 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago, provides complete protection against wounding, killing, and acts of harassment for “protected animals” (defined as any animal not specified or mentioned in the Second or Third Schedules of the Act). This would appear to include all species of marine turtle, as they are not listed on either of those schedules. The Act protects all life stages (“animal” being defined as mammal, bird or reptile and including eggs, carcass, meat, nest or young thereof). The penalty for hunting protected animals without a licence is 1000 Trinidad and Tobago dollars (TTD 1000) or imprisonment for three months. In addition, the Act provides for game sanctuaries and a wildlife conservation committee and for game wardens and honorary game wardens authorized to act as enforcement officers (Fournillier and Eckert, 1998).
Section 4 of the Fisheries Act of 1916 (Chapter 67:51 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago) and subsequent amendments of 1966 and 1975 empower the minister responsible for fisheries to make regulations to prescribe mesh size of nets, to restrict the size of fish, shrimp, crabs and turtles caught and prohibit their sale or prevent the catching of these species either absolutely or by season or area (Jobity, 2004). The 1975 Protection of Sea Turtle and Turtle Eggs Regulations, promulgated under Section 4 of the Fisheries Act, stipulate that:
• No person shall (a) kill, harpoon, catch or otherwise take possession of any female turtle which is in the sea within any reef or within one thousand yards from the high water mark of the foreshore where there is no reef; (b) take or remove or cause to be removed any turtle eggs after they have been laid and buried by a female turtle or after they have been buried by any person; (c) purchase, sell, offer or expose for sale or cause to be sold or offered or exposed for sale, or be in possession of, any turtle eggs.
• No person shall, between 1 March and 30 September, kill, harpoon, catch or otherwise take possession of or purchase, sell, offer or expose for sale or cause to be sold or offered or exposed for sale any turtle or turtle meat.
Offenders of these provisions are liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of TTD2000 and imprisonment for six months. In addition, the Act stipulates that “it is the duty of the Fisheries Officer and any person authorized in writing by him to do so, subject to any general or special directions given by the Minister, to carry out the provisions of this Act”. A bill that has been before Parliament for several years revises the Fisheries Act to provide complete protection of marine turtles, but this has yet to be adopted (FDWS, 2002).
The Environmental Management Act, adopted by Parliament in 1995, establishes an Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to set environmental standards, regulate activities that have an impact on the environment, protect vulnerable habitats and species and institutionalize national environmental policy. Further, the Act proposes an Environmental Code to evaluate, modernize, and rationalize relevant environmental laws and progress so as to provide comprehensive protection and regulatory measures for the environment (Government of Trinidad and Tobago, undated). Finally, the Act allows the EMA to designate any defined land area or any species of living plant or animal as being “environmentally sensitive” and to specify the type and intensity of activities required to sustain or enhance the resource.
Section 2 of the Forests Act (Chapter 66:01 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago) provides authority for restricting access to certain areas designated as Prohibited Areas. Entry into these areas is allowed only on the basis of permits issued from the Forestry Division and these permits are issued with a set of mandatory conditions (Fournillier and Eckert, 1998).
The Marine Areas (Preservation and Enhancement) Act (Chapter 37:02 (No. 1 of 1970, as amended in 1973) provides for marine areas to be protected as restricted areas, so as to preserve natural beauty, protect flora and fauna, promote enjoyment of the area and promote scientific research (UNEP, 1996). Such areas are to be set aside as no-fishing zones (where “fish” are defined to include corals, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, turtles, turtle eggs and any species of marine fauna), with entry into the area prohibited except with written permission by persons authorized to act on the Minister’s behalf. Permissions are subject to conditions and anchoring sites may only be designated through notification by the relevant minister (Fournillier and Eckert, 1998). The Act is currently applied only to the management of coral reefs (Jobity, 2004).
The Fisheries (Conservation of Marine Turtles) Regulations of 1994 require all semi-industrial and industrial trawl fleets to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on their nets to reduce the incidental capture of turtles (Fourniller and Eckert, 1998). Other regulations specify TEDs which may be used and the resuscitation of marine turtles incidentally captured. These regulations are export-driven, in that annual certification of the national marine turtle protection programme by the US Department of State is required for continued access of locally caught shrimps to US markets (Jobity, 2004).
Bacon, P. R. 1970. Studies of the Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea (L.), in Trinidad, West Indies.Biological Conservation 2(3):213–217.
Bacon, P. R. 1973. The Status and Management of the Sea Turtle Resources of Trinidad and Tobago. Report to the Ministry of Agrticulture, Lands and Fisheries, Trinidad and Tobago. 40 pp.
Bacon, P. R. and G. K. Maliphant. 1971. Further studies on sea turtles in Trinidad and Tobago. Journal of the Trinidad Field Naturalists Club, 1971.
Chu Cheong, L. 1984. National Report for Trinidad and Tobago. Submitted 16 May 1983. Pp. 398–408. In: P. Bacon et al. (Eds). Proceedings of the Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium, 17–22 July 1983, San José, Costa Rica, III, Appendix 7. University of Miami Press, Florida.
Eckert, K. L. 1998. Endangered Sea Turtles of Tobago. Environment Tobago Newsletter 2.2.
Eckert, K. L. and W. Herron. 1998a. Tobago’s Illegal Leatherback Hunt. Environment Tobago Newsletter 2.2.
Eckert, K. L. and W. Herron. 1998b. Turtle Law in Tobago. Environment Tobago Newsletter 2.2.
Eckert. S. A. 2006 In press. Dive behavior, internesting and post-nesting movements of leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) from Trinidad nesting beaches. Marine Biology.
Eckert, S. A. and J. Lien. 1999. Recommendations for eliminating incidental capture and mortality of Leatherback turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, by commercial fisheries in Trinidad and Tobago, WIDECAST Information Document 1999 – 001. WIDECAST, Beaufort, North Carolina.
James, C. and K. Fournillier. 1993. Marine Turtle Management in North-East Trinidad – A Successful Community Based Approach Towards Endangered Species Conservation. CANARI Case Study. Prepared by the Wildlife Section-Forestry Division, Government of Trinidad and Tobago. 33 pp.
James, M. C., S. A. Eckert and R. A. Myers. 2005. Migratory and reproductive movements Lee Lum, L. (1985). Sea turtle studies in Trinidad, 1981–83. Institute of Marine Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago.
Lee Lum, L. M. 2003. An assessment of incidental turtle catch in the gillnet fishery in Trinidad and Tobago. Research Report. Institute of Marine Affairs,Trinidad and Tobago. 38 pp.
Nathai-Gyan, N. 1984. Marine Turtle Management in Trinidad and Tobago with Specific Reference to the Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea. Report to the Wildlife Section-Forestry Division, Government of Trinidad and Tobago. 17 pp.
Nathai-Gyan, N., C. James and G. Hislop. 1987. National Report for Trinidad and Tobago. Presented to the Second Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium, Puerto Rico. Forestry Division, Ministry of Food Production, Marine Exploitation, Forestry and Environment. 228 pp.
Pritchard, P. C. H. 1984. Marine Turtles in Trinidad and Tobago. Report to FAO.