Totality of seized hawksbill products

December 16, 2013 – San Jose, Costa Rica

161 hawksbill sea turtle rings and 9 bracelets from 5 stalls at the Christmas fair in Los Angeles de Heredia were confiscated during a joint operation between officers of the Central Volcanic Range Conservation Area (ACCVC) of Heredia,Public Force police officials, the Costa Rican marine non-profit PRETOMA, and environmentalist Claudio Quesada who made ​​the initial complaint. The hawksbill is a Critically Endangered Species according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and their trade is strictly prohibited by Costa Rican law.

El equipo del decomiso conformado de derecha a izquierda por oficiales de la Fuerza Pública, Maike Heidemeyer de Pretoma, Edwin Arguedas y Carlos Gonzales del Minae, el ambientalista Claudio Quesada y Roberto Mora del Minae.

The confiscation team composed from left to right of police officers, Maike Heidemeyer from PRETOMA, MINAE officers Edwin Arguedas and Carlos González, the environmentalist Claudio Quesada and Roberto Mora from MINAE.

According to Maike Heidemeyer of PRETOMA, it was interesting to hear the sellers’ arguments during the confiscation of their turtle shell goods. “Some assured they were only selling horn, as it was sold to them, or claimed not to know the law, but all agreed that these hawksbill products (locally known as “carey”) originally came from Nicaragua,” Heidemeyer commented. “The most serious issue here is that we are facing violations of the international CITES treaty which prohibits the trade of hawksbill products internationally” she added.

According to Ronald Mora of the ACCVC, part of the blame lies with the municipalities who are issuing sale permits without confirming the origin of the products. “It is also necessary to provide more training to MINAE officials to reliably identify hawksbill products in order to proceed with seizures in the future when necessary” said Mora.

The commerce of hawksbill products can be compared to the barbaric practices of obtaining elephant or rhinoceros ivory, or the wildlife fur industry. Any sale of hawksbill products must be reported to the corresponding authorities (SINAC, MINAE) or organizations including PRETOMA, Widecast or the Sea Turtle Conservancy.

Although hawksbill products are still for sale in fairs and during other activities, this confiscation showed that joint collaboration between authorities and NGOs can be an efficient way of detaining their sale.

Hawksbill may be confused with horn or coco nut, as it comes in all kind of shapes and colours.

NOTES:

The sale and possession of hawksbill products is prohibited by the Wildlife Conservation Law no. 7317 and the Conservation, Protection and Recovery of Sea Turtle Populations no. 8325, which article no. 6 imposes a sentence of one to three years in prison, for anyone convicted of killing, hunting, capturing, butchering, trading or transporting sea turtles or their products.

To fabricate hawksbill products, including artisanal jewelry and other decorations, the turtle shell is cut off the turtle and the scutes (or individual scales that make up the shell) are separated. These cutes are then heated and pressed to create the desired shapes.

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    December 16, 2013 - San Jose, Costa Rica 161 hawksbill sea turtle rings and 9 bracelets from 5 stalls at the Christmas fair in Los Angeles de Heredia were confiscated during a joint operation between officers of the Central Volcanic Range Conservation Area (ACCVC) of Heredia,Public Force police officials, the...