Planning Minister saddened by slaughter of turtles

The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development, with responsibility for the environment has been deeply saddened and disappointed by the recent slaughter of several protected sea turtles in Tobago and explicitly condemns this act of disregard for nature and the rule of law. The Honourable Minister is providing assurance to the public that the Environmental Management Authority in collaboration with other relevant agencies is conducting the necessary investigations to ensure the perpetrators of this environmental crime are brought to justice.

Minister Robinson-Regis lauds the tireless efforts of civil society, the State and local communities working to protect these and other endangered species. The number of recorded poaching incidents has dramatically decreased in recent years and despite this setback, all parties remain committed to eradicating the wanton slaughter of protected species. In 2014 five (5) species of sea turtles have been legally protected as ‘Environmentally Sensitive Species’. Actions such as this have not only a negative impact on the species, but on Trinidad and Tobago as a nation among the international community.

Acts such as these defeats the dedicated efforts of civil society organisations such as ‘Save Our Sea Turtles’, ‘Turtle Village Trust’ and ‘Nature Seekers’, in conjunction with the network of community volunteers who tirelessly patrol and protect turtle nesting sites across Trinidad and Tobago. All of society must see it necessary to adopt some personal responsibility and play a part in the protection of our environment and natural ecosystems because all of our lives depend on it.
The Honourable Minister also wants to remind the public of the following:

Section 70 (2) of the EM Act Chap 35:05 in relation to the “criminal offence for knowing or reckless endangerment” of an Environmentally Sensitive species:
(1) Any person who through the release or handling of any pollutant or hazardous substance, or the arrangement for another person through any contract or other agreement to release or handle any pollutant or hazardous substance, knowingly or recklessly endangers human life or health, commits an offence, and is liable on conviction on indictment, to a fine of one hundred thousand dollars and imprisonment for two years.
(2) Any person who knowingly or recklessly undertakes or conspires to allow any activity in an “environmentally sensitive area” or with respect to an “environmentally sensitive species” designated under section 41, which may have an adverse impact on the environment within such area or on such species, commits an offence and is liable, on conviction on indictment, to a fine of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) and imprisonment for two years.”

Members of the public with any information pertaining to this incident or any other environmental emergency are urged to report to the EMA via the following Tel. 680-9588 and 285-4362 or complaints@ema.co.tt.