US Turtles Being Unsustainably Harvested for Asian Cuisine

turtle soup in asia photo

Photo via VirtualErn via Flickr CC

The Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Arizona has sent out a warning about the unsustainable harvesting of American turtles to feed Asian diners. They're urging several mid-western and southern states to implement a ban on turtle hunting to help give the numbers time to bounce back.From Scientific American

Earlier this month, the organization petitioned eight U.S. states (Arkansas , Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee) to ban turtle hunting in all public and private waters. Meanwhile, Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has proposed its own ban, and will present a draft of the rules at a Commission meeting next month. The Commission recently estimated that 3,000 pounds of softshell turtles are flown out of Tampa International Airport every week, enroute to food markets in Asia.

The concern is over the fact that freshwater turtles don't reproduce all that rapidly, so harvesting them in too large of numbers has the potential to easily wipe out populations. Experts feel a ban on hunting will be successful in protecting the animals from becoming endangered. It wouldn't end all hunting, since poaching will occur, but they feel it would significantly help.

From the Las Vegas Sun:

The Arizona organization worked with 24 other conservation and public health groups to send petitions to the eight states, raising questions about the safety of eating turtle meat and calling attention to the number of turtles being harvested.

"People in states where there's either no regulation or lax regulations are literally strip mining streams," said Jeff Miller, a spokesman for the center. "We're going to see some pretty catastrophic results in terms of the number of turtles being taken. It's way beyond anything that's sustainable."

More on Turtles
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