the Philippines

 

Manila, Luzon

 

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Turtle Islands in the Philippines

The Tawi-Tawi islands

South of the island Palawan there is a group of seven small islands, which is  known as "the Turtle Islands". Locally the islands are known as the "Tawi-Tawi islands". The total land surface of  the Turtle Islands is no more than 318 hectares. The Turtle Islands,

together with three islands of neighbour country Malaysia and the surrounding coral waters, are the only living area of  the Green Sea Turtles in Asia and in the whole world. Since 1996 the islands are declared Protected Area, the only way to guarantee the existence of the green sea turtles and their nesting sites.

 

Protection, how?

The Philippine government declared by order the 7 islands as a protected area. For five islands the government decided for special protection zones.  Within this zones only scientific and conservation activities are allowed. In other zones there are certain rules in order to prevent too much impact by people on the environment and the turtles. Visiting these zones is only possible with strict guidance and under supervision of the staff of the officials of the government.

 

Picture: ARCBC

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Local people help with conservation activities

For a successful conservation and protection program the support of the locals is very important. Fishing is  for most of them the most important activity. Hunting the sea turtles and collecting the turtle eggs for food, has always been a welcome possibility for additional income. At the end of August to December the turtles come by hundreds out of the surrounding coastal waters to lay and dig their eggs into the sand. The staff of the Conservation Project succeeded in convincing the locals of the need to minimize their collecting activities. Local men, women and children, are now involved and help with the protection activities.

                                                    Picture: ARCBC

Laws and regulations

It seems that the Philippines is not lacking laws and regulations concerning environmental protections. This doesn't mean that all is settled and that there are no problems with reference to for instance coral waters, forest , marine turtles and fish waters. On the contrary! Illegal practices give many times problems with reference to the conservation ends of the government. For the turtles the problems seem to be solved last years.

Orders to protect nature, some examples

Bureau of Forestry Administrative Order No. 1
Regulations governing the collecting, gathering and / or disposing of marine turtles, turtle eggs and its by-products.

DENR Administrative Order No. 97-05
Procedures in the retention of areas within certain distances along the banks of rivers, streams, and shore of seas, lakes and oceans for environmental protections.

Presidential Decree No. 1219
Decree to provide the exploration, exploitation, utilization and conservation of coral resources.