Pastika pledges to stop turtle slaughter

by Ni Komang Erviani on 2013-06-21

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has pledged to immediately stop the illegal slaughter of sea turtles on the island following international pressure.

“I will intensify coordination with the Bali Police to tightly supervise the possible illegal trading of sea turtles,” Pastika told journalists when visiting Warmadewa University in Denpasar on Thursday.

Pastika stressed that he completely supported efforts to protect the endangered species.

“Turtles are one of the few surviving prehistoric animals in modern times.”

During his term as Bali Police chief, Pastika frequently held raids confiscating illegally traded and trafficked turtles. Earlier this year, the police seized 33 sea turtles at Tanjung Benoa, while in 2012, the authorities foiled attempts to smuggle 220 sea turtles.

“I also visited food vendors selling turtle meat and implemented a crackdown on vendors.”

The smuggling and illegal trading of sea turtles onto the island has been longstanding to meet demand for turtle meat, a traditional food in Bali.

The Balinese also use turtle meat in several religious rituals as part of the offerings. However, since 2005, the powerful Indonesian Parishada Hindu Council (PHDI) confirmed that other meats, or images of the animals, could be used in place of the meat of endangered or protected animals, such as turtles and eagles.

Pastika also stressed that the Balinese used very little turtle meat in any ritual. “I still support the use of turtle meat for religious purposes.”

The provincial administration, he said, had enacted stern law enforcement against any parties found selling turtles on the black market.

In addition to enforcing the law, the government has also launched series of campaigns to arouse people’s awareness on the importance of protecting endangered species.

Recently, around 25,000 people signed a petition urging Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika and the tourist industry to stop the illegal slaughter of sea turtles. The petition, on the website change.org, called for support from animal lovers, environmentalists and individuals to protect sea turtles across the island.

Since last March, Indonesia-based ProFauna and SOS-Sea turtle from Switzerland and France have collaborated in the effort to garner voices from the international community to end this cruelty.

Sea turtles, also known as green turtles, are an endangered species and protected by the 1990 law on natural resource conservation. They are also listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning that any commercial trade of specimens caught in the wild of this species is illegal. Indonesia has ratified the convention.

The petition says: ”Hundreds of thousands of people are very much concerned about Bali’s sea turtles and I believe that the existing sea turtle trade is not a good promotion for your country and Bali, which is a beautiful island with friendly people and excellent hospitality”.

“It is not worth risking Bali’s image because of a group of corrupt and irresponsible people from Tanjung Benoa, who decimate one of the oldest inhabitants of the oceans for their own profit. I hope that this situation in Bali is brought under control and the turtle killing will stop as soon as possible. Until such a time, however, I have decided not to visit your country and I will encourage others not to visit either,” the petition declares.

Following the petition, Pastika hoped that there would be no international boycott of Bali’s tourism as the government had been working hard to eradicate illegal turtle trading.

“Bali has been notorious for turtle slaughter. We have to work together to erase that negative image by taking serious action on the issue,” said Jatmiko Wiwoho, coordinator of ProFauna Bali.

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