Marinas around the world are being flooded by the arrival of thousands of sea turtles nesting in Canada’s most important marine park, and now some are saying they should be able to take back their habitat.
Sea turtles have been living in protected waters off the coast of the B.C. coast for thousands of years.
Now, thanks to a new plan by the federal government, they can be relocated to marine parks like the one that protects the beaches of B.B.C., says Marisa Stapleton.
“They’ve never been here before,” she said.
“It’s just a huge opportunity for them to grow and flourish in this beautiful, pristine place.”
The new plan was announced by the minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Stewart Thomas.
He said that after considering what was needed to maintain a healthy ecosystem for the turtles, the government decided to provide $10 million to start a “re-introduction program.”
“We know this is a massive opportunity,” said Staplette.
“We have a huge coastline that has been overfished, overfarmed, overpopulated for so long, and there’s just nowhere else that we can put sea turtles.”
“It’s a huge responsibility to protect the turtles and the oceans and to ensure they are not overfishing and overfaring,” said James Rafferty, executive director of the Turtle Conservation Society of B .
“But it’s also a huge privilege and a big responsibility to keep this land and our marine environment healthy and protected.”
Sea turtle nesting is a protected marine species, which means the turtles cannot be killed for the purpose of food.
But Thomas said the plan is to keep the turtles in protected areas and not to kill them outright.
“We’re going to keep it in a protected area,” he said.
But he said there will be no culls or de-selections of the turtles from protected areas.
The government also plans to remove the turtle’s burrows and nesting areas from the protected areas as well.
The new proposal also calls for a new management plan for protected areas in the Bering Sea, including a new “mapping of habitat” plan.
That plan will be developed with the help of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and a team from the University of Victoria, and is expected to be finalized in a couple of months.
The plan will also include a “management and conservation plan for a future population” for the species, according to the government.
“It’ll be something that we’ve worked very hard on with the government, and with industry, to make sure that we get the best management and conservation possible,” said Rafferter.
“This is a huge step forward, and we can’t wait to see what this is going to mean for the marine turtles, for the environment and the tourism sector.”
The government has a few other plans for the future of the marine turtle, but for now it is focused on the current population.
“I think we’ve really had to wait a long time to see if we could get this population up to the standard we have here,” said David Leach, a senior scientist at the Bambina Island Research Station.
“The plan we’re putting forward is a very large plan, and it’s a really big plan.”
The B.A.S.-University of Victoria team will start a study of the species in the coming months and is aiming to complete a comprehensive survey by the end of 2018.