Sea turtle rescued from fishermen in a protected area

Sea turtle rescued from fishermen in a protected area

In Mozambique there are five species of sea turtle that occur along the coast. They are all threatened and therefore being protected by law (and have been for over 45 years). Despite efforts to reduce the effect of illegal fishing on sea turtle populations, capture of these creatures still occurs regularly. source 

Our recent rescue.

Our managing couple, Tracy and Justin, spotted an adult Green sea turtle in the possession of local fishermen. The turtle was captured using a mosquito net (visible in the photo) and was upside down in the small fishing boat. It was in distress but, luckily, still alive. 

The fishermen stated that they captured the turtle for food. In this area the capture of turtles for sustenance is very prevalent and persuading the fishermen to let their meal go would quickly appear to be a lost cause. After negotiating for a while, the fishermen agreed to let the turtle go in exchange for 4000 Meticals (~$54,15). 

Giving the fishermen money, unfortunately, only drives their motivation to capture more turtles, and is not seen as best practice. By offering to pay for the release of a turtle a trade in itself becomes made. However, in the end, in order to persuade the captors, they were forced to offer them 1000 Meticals (~$13,54). 

The turtle was released and with help from bystanders, Justin helped to guide the heavy and very tired turtle back into the blue of the ocean. We are certain this must  have been an extremely stressful and traumatic event, and although we were fortunate to rescue this one turtle, there are many turtles who will not escape this fate.

The turtle quickly disappeared into the waves and was not seen again, however we are not guaranteed its survival. We can only hope it was not recaptured along the shore where multiple unmonitored fishermen await.

At Fire Island conservation we are dedicated to creating awareness and helping these animals escape the threat of extinction . That is exactly why we share stories like this one that look deeper into the root of the problem to find a sustainable solution.



What is causing this problem? 

The main reason that turtles are being captured (amongst other sea life) is necessity. These fishermen often use mosquito nets and similar nets to capture these unsuspecting creatures, mostly to eat. 

The problem of hunger is widespread in the area, and must also be seen as a serious issue that must be tackled by a sustainable and long term solution. This is a problem that causes a series of devastating side-effects for the environment. 

While fishing is allowed in the area that the turtle was found, all of the turtles along the coast of Mozambique are protected by law and have been for a very long time. This, however, means nothing to hungry locals with no other means of survival. 

The survival of our fragile turtle species is becoming increasingly threatened due to the poaching and unregulated fishing in the area. A lack of consequence has caused the frequency of poaching to become extensive.

Because of a lack of resources (such as boats) it is difficult to patrol the area and enforce the law. Local authorities and the coast guard must become involved in a campaign to investigate and regulate fishing in the area and work in cooperation with other organizations and conservation attempts. 

The Northern coast of Mozambique is so remote that very few conservation efforts can be made by outsiders, but if these attempts received the needed support their hard work would go a long way towards finding the solution we need. 

To learn more about how Fire Island is working to promote awareness and help the conservation of marine wildlife, feel free to visit our website at: 

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