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Turtle Harvesting Criticized

November 19th, 2008 by Mike Vasilinda

More than 30 scientists are calling on the Governor to ban the harvesting of fresh water turtles in Florida. Evidence is sketchy, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the scientists fear over harvesting to feed a growing demand in Asia will strip the state of one of its natural resources.

Hear it Here: Turtle Harvesting

They are on logs and rocks along every river and lake in Florida. They come in dozens of varieties. What they have in common is that the Chinese and others want them for soup and as an aphrodisiac. In a strongly worded letter to Governor Charlie Crist, 32 scientists are asking the governor to ban commercial harvesting of fresh water turtles.

People in the public dont want to see our turtles being hunted in the wild and shipped to Asian markets, Dr. Matthew Aresco said. Its just not something that the public is going to stand for.

Last month, Floridas Fish and Wildlife Commission imposed a limit of 5 turtles per person per day and a maximum 20 turtles for commercial fishermen. The scientists want a one turtle per person per day limit.

The problem is a lack of information

No one really knows how many turtles there are, how many people are harvesting them, or how many turtles are being taken.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is in the process of gathering more information. Spokesperson Pat Behnke says the commission is must be cautious.

Theres no threat that we can see at this point, Behnke said. Weve slowed it down, restricted it while we take this opportunity to look at it. Were moving as fast as we can.

While the Commission studies, the scientists say the turtle population is being depleted. They say at the current rate, they say Floridas stock could be decimated in ten to 20 years.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Environment, State News, Wildlife | No Comments »

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