The Turks and Caicos Islands is a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered (CITES) treaty, which restricts the export and import of endangered species. The Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) is advising the public that as of 1 July 2014, new regulations for turtle and conch under the Fisheries Protection Ordinance will take effect. The regulations include the following restrictions on the taking of turtles:
- A closed season for Hawksbill turtles from 1 August to 31 March (inclusive). During the closed season it will be unlawful to take, purchase or possess hawksbill turtles or hawksbill turtle products.
- A legal size limit of 18 inches (minimum) and 24 inches (maximum) for green and hawksbill turtles. It will be unlawful to possess green or hawksbill turtles larger than 24 inches or smaller than 18 inches.
- A permanent closure on the taking of Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley turtles. As of 1 July 2014 it will be unlawful to take or fish for any of these species.
- A ban on the export of all turtles and turtle products, except for scientific purposes. No turtle products shall be exported from TCI.
- A ban on the keeping of turtles in captivity. As of 1 July it will be unlawful to keep any turtles in captivity, unless such captivity is necessary to rescue, rehabilitate or preserve the life of the turtle.
- A prohibition against processing turtles at sea. All turtles will need to be landed live and in whole condition after being taken and only processed where it is to be sold, processed or used for personal consumption.
In addition to the above turtle regulations, as of July 1, 2014, it will become lawful to export conch shells, conch jewelry, conch pearls or craft products made of conch shells during the closed season for conch. This regulation will allow such products to be exported for non-commercial or personal use only.
Any questions regarding the new regulations should be directed to DEMA at 941-5122 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org other shells require a permit which varies depending on quantity and species.
Taking any shells out of the country, including conch shells, requires a permit (usually free), which can be obtained from the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources (DEMA). Free permits are granted for tourists to take up to 3 conch shells out of the country during conch open season (usually 16 October to 30 June).
It is a criminal offence to take shells or coral from any national park, which can cover much of the coastline in the country, especially Providenciales. See a Providenciales National Parks page from a map at the Front Desk.
Coral of any sort cannot be legally taken from the country, and permits will not be granted.
Thank you for your attention.