More than 200 species of pet turtles will be protected from being killed by illegal hunters
The United States and Canada have signed an agreement to protect more than 200 marine turtle species from extinction and to offer them “safe havens” as they migrate north, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday.
Trudeau also said the United States will join Canada in implementing a marine conservation plan to help preserve the country’s oceans and help fight climate change.
The deal is a milestone in the U.S.-Canada relationship, and comes after years of negotiations between the countries.
Canada and the United Kingdom signed the agreement last year, but a U.K. decision to stop enforcing its existing legislation for the import of turtles, known as the Migratory Species Convention, prevented the agreement from taking effect.
Canada has said it will not enforce the MSC until the United Nations changes its rules to allow its citizens to import turtles.
In an emailed statement, a Canadian Fish and Wildlife spokesman said Canada and the U,S.
have a number of agreements in place to protect species from capture and export.
The spokesman declined to provide details on the specifics of the agreements.
Tracking turtle numbers in the NorthAtlantic are “extremely difficult,” said David Anderson, the executive director of the Canadian Turtle Protection Centre, an advocacy group.
He said that “it’s a little difficult to predict what the number of turtles will look like next year.”
Trudeau said that in 2019, Canada and Mexico will work together to increase the number to the current level of nearly 300,000, up from the current estimate of about 80,000.
“We’re going to take a lot of the pressure off the people of Canada and we’re going also to take our share of the responsibility,” he said.
“We’re not going to let the turtles fall into the wrong hands.
We’re going, and we are, going to help keep them in their rightful places.”
Trinity-Spadina, Ont., has one of the world’s most endangered marine turtle populations, with about 500 animals, including one that has a head and a tail.
Trinity, in southwestern Ontario, has been at the centre of a dispute between Canada and New Brunswick over the rights to sell the animals, as well as the rights of fishermen to fish them.
In 2010, the federal government of Canada declared Trinity’s population of sea turtles as threatened, prompting a provincial court in Nova Scotia to order the sale of the animals.
New Brunswick was ordered to pay $8.5 million to cover the costs of the ruling.
Tracy said in an interview that the federal governments decision to designate Trinity as endangered in 2010 “was a mistake, because we could not keep it from going extinct.”
“Now we’re working on it in partnership with our partners, including the United Sates, and it’s going to be very significant in the conservation efforts to protect this species,” he added.
Canada is home to more than 100,000 sea turtles, including more than 500 that are still in captivity.
Tragically, the turtles’ numbers have dropped by more than half since the late 1980s.