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Vietnam enhances protection of rare sea turtles

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Vietnam's sea turtles are currently under serious threat, largely caused by human activities.

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Vietnam's sea turtles are under serious threat


Khanh Hoa Police on July 31 rescued a Vich turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) from captivity at a restaurant in Nha Trang City. 

In early June, 72 specimens of rare sea turtles were seized when they were on display at a fine arts & handicrafts shop in Vung Tau City.

Some days later, two souvenir shops in Kien Giang province were found displaying 47 Doi Moi (Eretmochelys imbricate) specimens.

At the same time, two Vich turtles in captivity in HCMC and Hai Duong were also rescued by appropriate agencies and released in local waters. 

The police and agencies recently discovered many violations related to sea turtle conservation. However, the illegal behaviors of catching, breeding in captivity and eating still continue, threatening the survival of this marine species.

According to Education of Nature – Vietnam (ENV), Vietnam is home to five species of sea turtles, namely Rua Da (Dermochelys coriacea), Rua Xanh or Vich (Lepidochelys olivacea), Doi Moi (Eretmochelys imbricate), Quan Dong (Cretta caretta) and Doi Moi Dua  (Chelonia mydas).

All of these species are protected at the highest level in accordance with Vietnamese and international laws. 

Of the five sea turtle species, Doi Moi has seen a serious decline. Doi Moi turtles play an important role in the ecosystem protection because they eat sponges, and keep coral reefs healthy. However, the number of Doi Moi dropped dramatically by 80 percent last century. They were hunted for tortoise shells which can be used to make fine art and jewelry.

Conservation centers around the world report that there are only 15,000 female Doi Moi in the world. Vich are also in danger as they only have a 1 in 1000 chance of surviving until adulthood.

Over the past five years, about 150,000 turtles have returned to the ocean each year. This means that only 150 can reach adulthood. 

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in recent years, only 10 Doi Moi Dua lay eggs at beaches in the Bai Tu Long area and Quang Binh province. On Son Tra peninsula, Doi Moi Dua has not been seen since 2015.

In September 2007, Con Dao became the first locality in Vietnam which took legal proceedings against violators related to sea turtle eggs, paving the way for other localities to impose heavy sanctions on violators. 

On June 4, the Nha Trang City Court sentenced Hoang Tuan Hai to four years and six months in jail for collecting, processing and trading more than 10 tons of sea turtles discovered in late 2014. 



Source: VietNamNet

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