The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change is reminding local fishers, stakeholders, and the general public of the upcoming closure of the fishing season for the Green Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle.

The ministry on Thursday emphasized the temporary halt in turtle fishing activities, which is scheduled to be in effect from April 1 to November 30.

According to Theodore James, Director of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, this closure aligns with Regulation 26 of the Fisheries Regulations 2003, which mandates the cessation of turtle fishing and the sale of turtle meat during this period.

James further elaborated on Regulation 22, which outlines stringent guidelines for the conservation of turtle species in the region.

It states that during the aforementioned period: no person shall disturb, remove from the fishery waters, expose for sale, sell, purchase, or possess any turtle eggs; interference with any turtle nest or nesting turtle is strictly prohibited; and persons shall not possess, sell, purchase, or expose for sale any undersized turtle or catch a Leatherback Turtle or Loggerhead Turtle during the moratorium.

The regulation further states that setting any net, seine, or fishing gear within 100 meters of the Virgin Islands’ shore with the intent to catch turtles is prohibited and that fishing for, possessing, selling, or purchasing any turtle at any time is prohibited.

The Director emphasized that individuals found in violation of these provisions or any directives given will be subject to penalties. Upon summary conviction, offenders may face fines not exceeding one thousand dollars.

To bolster enforcement efforts, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries urges the public to report any instances of illegal turtle fishing, selling, or purchasing activities during the closed season. Reports can be made by calling the department’s hotline at 468-9195 or by emailing relevant details and photographic evidence. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to reach out to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force at 311 for land matters or at 368-9462 for marine matters.