Japan Sea Turtle Stabbings Unlikely to Lead to Charges

TOKYO – The stabbings of endangered sea turtles on Okinawa’s gravel coastline have shaken Japan.

But it also sympathizes with frustrated fishermen, who often struggle with giant sea creatures when they get caught in their nets.

Last Thursday, at least 10 green sea turtles were found scattered across a beach in Kumejima, Okinawa, dead with stab wounds to their short and wrinkled necks. About 20 others were caught in fishing nets or overturned on the beach, some died with stab wounds, others were barely alive. How and why the attacks occurred remains a mystery.

Hirokazu Oohama, a police spokesman in Naha, the capital of Okinawa, said in a phone interview on Tuesday that he thought someone in the fishing industry had stabbed the turtles. He said no one could be charged.

“Regardless of who did it, fishermen need to protect their nets and their way of life,” Mr. Oohama said. “So we will listen very closely and consult with the authorities and the fishermen’s association on how to solve this problem.”

Between 300 and 700 sea turtles are found dead every year in Japan, with many deaths attributed to the fishing industry, according to the report. Kuroshima Research Center of the Japan Sea Turtle Association.

green sea turtle, can weigh up to 440 poundsclassified as an endangered species by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment and belongs to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.“red list” of threatened species.

Although nationally and internationally recognized as an endangered species, it is not among the 400 domestic species protected from captors under Japan’s conservation law.

Researchers in Japan say that fishermen have long had a close relationship with green turtles. Sometimes turtles eat farmed seaweed or tear fishing nets.

Dr Isao Kawazu, a sea turtle expert at the Okinawa Churashima Research Center, said catching large and heavy turtles can be very difficult and dangerous for fishermen, especially if they are “braised”. riot” in a panic.

He said: “Through stories that I have heard from fishermen, many people say that there are too many sea turtles and they are struggling because of it. “Globally, there aren’t enough sea turtles, but depending on the region, sea turtles are in trouble.”

After locals discovered dead turtles and dead turtles last week, Yoshimitsu Tsukakoshi, chief animal curator at the nearby Kumejima Sea Turtle Museum, spent hours rescuing the remains. alive.

“It takes a very long time for turtles to reproduce. Some turtles die young, and it is disappointing that they have to suffer such an incident,” he told Japanese broadcaster NHK.

The seafood industry accounts for 202,000 jobs in Japan, according to a Report for 2021 released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Some marine researchers, who trust the fishing industry to collect data, say those jobs need to be balanced with animal conservation.

“We understand that their jobs, the way they make a living, can sometimes be disturbed because of the turtles,” said Kensuke Matsumiya, a spokesman for the Japan Sea Turtle Association. “Some fishermen rate sea turtles very positively, while others say they are a pain. We as an association try to stay more neutral.”

“It’s not uncommon for sea turtles to get caught in fisherman’s nets or equipment,” added Mr. Matsumiya. “A few hundred a year, it can’t be helped in some cases.”

Dr. Kawazu says that conservation measures are used elsewhere to help turtles, such as Hawaii’s Restrictions on Fishing Equipment along its coastlines, cannot be easily applied in Japan as it will affect the livelihoods of fishermen.

“There is protection and preservation, and they are different,” he said. “For conservation, you need to think about the profits that people have to earn. We need to have both and live alongside wild animals.”

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