Friday, April 17, 2009

Florida proposes ban on commercial freshwater turtle harvest

Florida softshell turtle (Photo by Kevin Enge courtesy FWC)

TALLAHASSEE, Florida, April 16, 2009 (ENS) - Florida moved toward adopting stronger conservation measures for the harvest of freshwater turtles at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting on Wednesday.

FWC commissioners directed staff to finalize a draft rule that bans the commercial take or sale of wild freshwater turtles in both public and private waters. The draft rule will be considered for approval at the commission's June meeting in Crystal River.

Agency staff advised the commission at its April meeting to accept language of a proposed rule to close turtle harvest in both types of waters after receiving an emergency rulemaking request in March 2008 from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, and the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

"When staff members began hearing reports of large harvests of freshwater turtles from Florida waters, they brought the concerns to the commission," said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. "As conservation managers, going forward with these measures is the right thing to do." …

Florida Proposes Ban on Commercial Freshwater Turtle Harvest

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