Hainan Island identified as a major hub for illegal sea turtle trade14/08/2012 09:03:14 TRAFFIC helping to train local enforcement officers
August 2012. Research by TRAFFIC has identified the island province of Hainan as a major hub for the illegal trade in marine turtles in China. A survey in 2009 found significant levels of marine turtle trade, which had not declined by the time of a follow-up survey in April this year.
China's National Inter-Agency CITES Enforcement Coordination Group (NICE-CG) has identified marine turtles as one of their priority species in combating wildlife crime. Member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) have also focused most recently on combating illegal wildlife trade including marine turtle products in Southeast Asia, which was discussed at an inter-governmental consultation meeting in Nanning last month, focusing on wildlife law enforcement co-operation and CITES matters between the NICE-CG and the 10 member countries of ASEAN-WEN.
TRAFFIC helps train officers to combat illegal marine turtle trade in Hainan
This month's meeting, organized by the Department of Ocean and Fisheries of Hainan Province in collaboration with TRAFFIC, provided participants with useful tools, knowledge and materials to strengthen their capacity to combat the illegal harvest and trade of marine turtles and other protected aquatic species.
Mr Xing Zhigang, Deputy Director of the Fisheries Inspection Division, Department of Ocean and Fisheries of Hainan, reminded participants about China's relevant wildlife legislation, and reiterated why the laws were needed to help maintain the balance of marine eco-systems. He urged officers to enforce the laws appropriately during their daily activities.
Ms Xu Ling, TRAFFIC's Senior Programme Officer in China, told participants about the mounting evidence that China had emerged as a major market for marine turtle products in recent years, with market surveys revealing a persistent illegal trade route to mainland China from the Coral Triangle region.
The Coral Triangle refers to the tropical marine waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste where high coral species diversity is found. It is home to six of the world's seven species of marine turtles.
Dr Shi Jianbin, Head of TRAFFIC's China Programme remarked on the seriousness of the currrent situation: "One of the most urgent issues facing marine turtles in our region is the sheer scale of the trade and consumption, which is severely undermining conservation efforts.
"Local enforcement agencies need to step up their efforts to detect and prevent the illegal marine turtle products being imported, manufactured or sold in China, and work with neighbouring countries to increase law enforcement co-operation to prevent further illegal harvest and trade of marine turtles," Dr Shi said.