WWF Asks EU to Save Sea Turtles – This May Affect Indian Fishermen

The statement is important for India, because India is one of the largest exporters of shrimp in the world.

2 min read
On World Sea Turtle Day, WWF has called upon the EU nations to enact measures that can help in conserving turtles. (Photo: iStock)

On World Sea Turtle Day, the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), the global organisation that champions the cause of wildlife conservation, has urged EU countries to enact measures that could help in protecting turtles, often caught in the trawling activities of fishermen. Though there are no official statistics available as to the number of turtles killed in trawling annually, conservationists estimate the number to be around 1,000.

WWF is calling upon all actors, from the tropical shrimp fisheries right up to national governments, and the European Commission, to demonstrate their commitment to helping secure a permanent place for sea turtles in global marine ecosystem.
WWF Press Release

The statement is significant, because that India is among one of the largest exporters of shrimp across the world, including to the EU. Increased restrictions and conservation measures, if enacted, could have an impact on the Indian fishing industry, which often uses trawlers that endanger sea turtles.

Distrust of TEDs

One of the reasons behind a large number of turtles being killed is reluctance among fishermen to use TEDs (Turtle Exclusion Devices) – these ensure that turtles are not trapped in fishing nets. Fishermen believe that the devices affect their catch, though studies have proven that use of TEDs has little impact on the quality of fish caught. Lack of regulation of any kind has only facilitated the problem.

Among the coastal states in India, Odisha has made it mandatory for all trawlers to use TEDs. Odisha has been a favourite destination of Olive Ridley turtles that usually come to beaches, often in the thousands, for mass nesting.

The government of India has been facilitating the installation of TEDs in shrimp trawl boats through CIFT (Central Institute of Fisheries Technology). However, implementation of these regulations is still a concern and needs to be strengthened.
WWF Statement

Conservationists believe if the use of TEDs is incentivised, they could go a long way in saving the lives of thousands of turtles. However, the fishing ban in Tamil Nadu has been met with further resistance by locals who cry foul, saying that the move affects their livelihood.

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