Over $36,000 dollars’ worth of turtle shell jewelry have been seized from various vendors in Koror by Fish & Wildlife law enforcement officers in compliance with RPPL 10-24.
RPPL 10-24 imposed a moratorium on killing and harvesting hawksbill turtle (Ngasech) for 10 years, effective April of 2018. The law allowed for 2-year “sell off” of any jewelry or product made from hawksbill turtle starting from the date the bill became law which was April 17, 2018. The businesses carrying inventory of hawksbill turtle products were given two years to sell off their inventory. They were not allowed to purchase new inventory during the entire 10-year moratorium. Based on the law, the 2-year period expired on April 17, 2020.
Many of the vendors according to sources claimed they were unaware of the law. Last year, when Island Times reached out to Chief of Fish & Wildlife Temdik Ngirblekuu regarding the enforcement of the law, he said that it was difficult to enforce due to inability to determine the difference between fake and real jewelry.
Vendors whose jewelry were seized did agree that the items are locally sourced and were indeed from real turtle shells.
A notice was issued this week, May 3, 2021 by Chief Temdik Ngirblekuu of the Division of Fish & Wildlife announcing the closure of turtle harvest season this May to August and the total moratorium on harvest of hawksbill turtle.
“No hawksbill turtle shall be harvested, taken, or intentionally killed, regardless of location or size of the turtle or the time of the time of year, for ten (10) years after the effective date of this Act. (April 17, 2018 to April 2028). During this moratorium period, no part of hawksbill turtle may be used for any purpose, including but limited to trade, consumption, import, or export, except for the existing use of the traditional “toluk” or women’s money already in circulation as of the date of the enacted of this Act,” states RPPL 10-24.