This video shows a green turtle, swimming near Tahiti.
From Associated Press:
Indonesia rejects Bali plan for turtle sacrifices
November 27, 2009 By NINIEK KARMINI, Associated Press Writer
Indonesia has rejected a push by the resort island of Bali for rare turtles to be legally slain in Hindu ceremonies, siding with conservationists of the protected reptiles against religious advocates, an official said Friday.
He said legally killed turtles should not end up in cooking pots, served to tourists in restaurants as soup or turtle skewers as they had in the past.
“It would be supervised tightly, and any violation would have to punished,” Pastika told reporters in Denpasar, Bali, on Wednesday.
Turtle meat is a traditional delicacy in Bali, the only province with a Hindu majority in Indonesia’s Muslim-dominated archipelago. But Indonesia banned the turtle trade and consumption a decade ago amid international concerns about the endangered species’ dwindling numbers and threats by animal welfare groups of a tourist boycott of Bali.
Masyud, a spokesman for the Forestry Ministry which is also responsible for animal conservation, said Friday the governor’s request for a Bali exemption from national protection laws was recently rejected on scientific advice.
“The law clearly mandates it was not possible, that the green turtles are included in the animals listed for protection,” said Masyud, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.
Tens of thousands of green turtles nest on Indonesia’s coasts, but sites have dwindled because of poaching and development.
Conservationisst generally respect the Hindus’ need for turtles in rituals, but railed against the number proposed.
Wayan Geria, coordinator of the Turtle Education and Conservation Center at Bali, described the quota plan as an embarrassment to protection efforts.
Creusa Hitipeuw, coordinator of the Indonesia turtle program of the World Wildlife Fund, said introducing such a high quota could trigger large-scale illegal trade and consumption.
“We recognize the need for the use of turtles in a ceremony, but it has to be managed well,” she said. “What we are afraid of is the commercial trade. It’s a death trap for this kind of population.”
Bali Hindu Faith Council head Ngurah Sudiana called for Jakarta to approve a smaller quota.
“The central government should understand the need for green turtles as part of traditional ceremonies because it relates to our faith,” Sudiana said. “Prohibiting it will hurt Balinese people.”
Up to five turtles are needed for sacrifice at each of the 100 to 150 large ceremonies a year in Hindu temples around Bali, he said.
Turtles were traditionally decapitated. But since they became protected in 1999, ceremonies in many temples have changed with turtles being symbolically sacrificed through their release to the sea alive.
Indonesia is 90% Muslim, but Bali is the exception, which is 90% Hindu. The Hindu community of Bali has traditionally used marine turtles for religious ceremonies for decades. Consumption of these turtles summed between 10,000 and 20,000 a year: here.
Incorporating 17,000 tropical islands, Indonesia is one of the world’s richest areas of biodiversity. However, according to the Jakarta Post, over half of this biodiversity remains unrecorded with only 20 of the more than 400 regencies in the country recording species: here.