The National Conservation Council’s plan for the conservation of sea turtles has completed its public consultation and is ready to be sent to Cabinet for review, according to the council’s chairman.

The plan, which is intended to help protect sea turtles in Cayman waters, went through a public consultation period between July and September this year.

Council chairman McFarlane Connolly said in a statement emailed to the Cayman Compass, “This proposal represents the most comprehensive effort to conserve and repopulate our iconic sea turtles in the Cayman Islands to date. National Conservation Council members are proud to note how much public support this initiative has received so far, and believe the plan contains realistic measures and goals that will help ensure future generations of Caymanians, residents and visitors can enjoy sharing the sea and the beach with these magnificent marine reptiles.”

Sea turtles are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

During the public consultation, the main areas of concern noted were identifying and protecting critical habitats, preventing turtle deaths from beach lighting, eliminating poaching, regulating the Cayman Turtle Centre’s release programme, banning heavy equipment on nesting beaches, and regulating human-to-turtle interactions.

Among the entities that took part in the public consultation were the National Roads Authority and its board, Caribbean Utilities Company, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Central Planning Authority, Sister Islands Development Control Board and District Administration, the Department of Planning, and the Cayman Turtle Centre.

More than 100 people also took part in an online survey outlining their concerns over turtle conservation, the NCC reported. Survey participants strongly supported the implementation of a legal requirement for turtlefriendly lighting in the Cayman Islands, the draft report noted.

Department of Environment marine research officer Janice Blumenthal said through 20 years of population monitoring, the DoE has identified the greatest threats to these species as artificial lighting on nesting beaches and illegal poaching.

“Without addressing these and other threats, the Cayman Islands sea turtle populations cannot survive,” Blumenthal said in the draft plan.

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