(Mirror Daily, United States) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in the World Turtle Day a new rule to monitor and regulate international trade of softshell turtles and common snapping turtles.
The rule came after a 2011 request from the Center for Biological Diversity which analyzed the consequences of the turtle trade. This rule targets to tackle the overexploitation of these freshwater turtles for Asian medicinal markets and food. Thanks to this rule, turtles are added to Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
According to Jenny Loda, a biologist, and attorney with the Center dedicated to protecting rare reptiles and amphibians, this rule is a vast improvement to restore the population of freshwater turtles, because their numbers have dropped off due to turtle traders’ abuse.
Each year there are 2 million wild-caught live turtles. Most of them are exported from the United States each year for medicinal markets and food in Asia, where native turtle populations have already been wiped out by excessive consumption.
Moreover, adult turtles are caught and used to breed hatchlings which become part of the international pet trade. Because of this overexploitation, all turtle species population has dropped off, meaning that many of them are on the verge of extinction and thus protected by the Endangered Species Act. The data from a 2013 study, reported that half of all turtle species from the world are endangered.
According to Loda, because of commercial trade, all turtle species declined, lost their habitat, were hit or killed by cars and died due to water pollution. After this decision, illegal trade will be prevented.
Four turtle species were added to the CITES Appendix III such as spiny softshell turtles, smooth softshell turtles, Florida softshell turtles, and snapping turtles. From now on, the trade in Appendix III will require documentation and an export permit to establish that the animal was acquired or caught by respecting the law, granting the U.S. permission to monitor the trade thoroughly. Plus, every animal must be shipped without cruel treatment.
The U.S. is home to an enormous turtle biodiversity and more species than any other country in the world. Therefore, it would be best to try and keep it that way.