EMA hunting people who destroyed turtle nesting site

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Turtle Beach, Tobago. – Photo courtesy Visuals Style

THE Environmental Management Authority (EMA) is on the hunt for those responsible for the excavation works on Turtle Beach, Tobago, which resulted in the destruction of a turtle nesting site, last week.

Turtle Beach is an important site for endangered leatherback turtles on the island.

In a statement on April 30, the authority said it had started an investigation into the incident. It followed the recent release of a video on social media which showed what appeared to be land works and crushed turtle eggs scattered along the sand.

The EMA, in its release on that occasion, said officers from its Environmental Police Unit (Tobago Office) and the Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development made a joint site visit to determine the extent of the work.

It said leatherback turtles have been designated an environmentally sensitive species (ESS) and are protected by law. Habitat preservation is crucial for their annual nesting period between March and September, and appropriate action will be taken against those committing related offences under the Environmental Management Act, the EMA said.

In a release on May 3, the EMA said its investigation had begun in earnest, and it was critical to determine “the person or persons who authorised the excavation works on Turtle Beach and the owner/operator of the excavator.”

“Knowingly or recklessly conducting any activity which will adversely impact the ESS” contravenes the act and carries a penalty of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of $100,000.

The authority is also urging members of the public to provide any evidence related to the excavation.

It said people can report by contacting the EMA’s Hotline at 367-8824 (submit contact information, locations, photos or video recordings only from mobile devices).

They can also make reports via [email protected] or call 226-4EMA (4362) Ext 5.

The EMA said all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.