Endangered Sea Turtle Were Stabbed in Japan, Authorities are Silent

Japan Endangered Green Sea Turtle Stabbing

Image: Sea Turtle Museum of Kumejima

The most disturbing news of turtle stabbing in Japan has the world rattled. At least 30 green sea turtles were stabbed to their death by angry fishermen off the island of Kumejima, in southern Okinawa prefecture, Japan. However, the revolting act and failure to take action against the culprit fishermen are even more baffling. It raises concerns and questions over the protection threatened flora and fauna species are receiving in the country of Japan.

A failure to follow through with a prosecution will be misconstrued somewhere else as implicit approval for further attacks on the country’s rare wildlife species. Police on the remote island of Kumejima are interrogating local fishermen and residents a low tide revealed the dead or dying endangered species of turtles off the beach. Most of the turtles had noticeable stab wounds on their necks and flippers.

Experts at the island’s Sea Turtle Museum told that the beach where the turtles were discovered is a popular feeding ground for the turtles. The turtles are listed as threatened with extinction by Japan’s Environment Ministry.

Reportedly, a local fisherman revealed that there are an uncharacteristically high number of turtles in the fishing waters this year, which get entangled in their nets. While they release some back into the sea, they stab the heavy ones to get rid of them. As disturbing as it sounds, this actually seems like a nice idea to the local fishermen.

Japan Endangered Green Sea Turtle Stabbing

Image: Alexandre Meneghini

Dr. Mariko Abe, of The Nature Conservation Society of Japan, said that incident highlights the increasing conflict between human anthropogenic activities and the natural world. She said;

In general, all species of turtle are listed as endangered in Japan, but there are parts of the country where there are too many and fishermen in some areas have been permitted to carry out limited culls. I have heard that Iriomote is another island in Okinawa where the number of turtles has also been increasing and local people there are very unhappy because it is affecting their businesses and livelihoods.

She further added that these protected animals are already in danger and if the police do not prosecute the culprits, it may not deter such incidents in the future. Japan turtle stabbing has raised more concerns and questions regarding the safety of the species.

Kevin Short, a professor specializing in environmental education at the Tokyo University of Information Sciences, said that deliberate killings of protected animals are highly unusual, but the action is still unlikely.

He said;

It seems that local fishermen have extensive aquaculture in the area and the turtles are feeding on the seaweed. The fishermen are also complaining that numbers of turtles are increasing exponentially and destroying their livelihoods.

Short suggested that authorities can introduce methods to protect offshore fishing grounds and the shallow-water seaweed beds. Fishermen must also be deterred to kill any turtles by setting an example of prosecution.

According to the Kuroshima Research Center at the Sea Turtle Association of Japan, between 300 and 700 sea turtles are found dead each year in Japan. Most of these deaths are attributed to the fishing industry.

The silence of the Japanese authorities on the matter raises a humongous question about the country’s seriousness on the matter. With endangered species already being pushed toward extinction amid climate change and anthropogenic activities, how long will it take for these rare flora and fauna members to disappear from the face of the earth if they are allowed to be attacked by irritated citizens?

Via: CBS News

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