A recent study by an environmental group, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, has identified the 11 most threatened sea turtle populations from around the world. And five of these so-called danger zones for sea turtles are in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtles, which nest on Indian shores, are an endangered species and there was a drive by environmentalists against the poaching and killing of these sea reptiles. The study also reveals that the turtles face other dangers.
“The most significant threats across all of the threatened populations are fisheries bycatch, the accidental catch of sea turtles by fishermen targeting other species and direct harvest of turtles or their eggs for food or turtle shell material for commercial use,” the report said.
This report may need to be taken seriously by India’s environmental bodies. While some high visibility animal projects like those for tigers in India have gained some success, the same cannot be said of any drive to preserve or sustain marine life on India’s coastlines. Poaching and killing of protected wildlife is known to be rampant on India’s shores. And perhaps environmental officials can’t do much along with the Coast Guard, given there may be bigger threats like smuggling and militant infiltration through the sea.
But something needs to be done and fast. In spite of repeated warnings by wildlife activists, reports like these expose India’s position and lack of seriousness in tackling marine pollution, unchecked fishing and poaching, and protection of marine life.