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DLNR to strictly enforce laws against turtle poaching

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(DLNR) — The Department of Lands and Natural Resources announced that it will provide additional enforcement against turtle poaching in line with federal and local laws.

On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance  Tasi Watch Community Rangers reported a sea turtle carcass that was found dumped outside the As Matuis water tank. The MINA Rangers, along with staff from the DLNR Sea Turtle Program, collected and surrendered the remains to the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Enforcement Section.

In the past four months, six turtle poaching incidents have occurred, three of which occurred in one week. Nesting sea turtles in the Mariana Islands are at risk of extinction due to illegal harvesting. Less than 20 female green sea turtles remain in our resident population, and this number continues to decline.

“Sea turtles are an endangered species and are vital to our unique ecosystem here in the Marianas. Our government will continue to work with our federal partners on imposing penalties on violators for these serious offenses,” said Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios.

"We would like to remind the public that sea turtles are endangered species and harassing or harvesting these animals is considered a federal offense. If you are caught, you will not be treated with leniency. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may be fined up to $25,000 and be imprisoned for up to six months," said Secretary of Lands and Natural Resources Anthony T. Benavente.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife are offering monetary rewards for information leading to an arrest of individuals in connection with sea turtle poaching activities in the CNMI. Sea turtles are protected by federal (Endangered Species Act) and local laws (CNMI Public Law 2-51). The taking of any sea turtle, of any size class, is against the law. Fines and penalties can range from $5,000 to $25,000 and up to six months imprisonment.

If you have any information regarding poaching incidents, please call the CNMI Sea Turtle Hotline at 287-8537 or DFW Enforcement at 285-2287 to make an anonymous report.

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