Jakarta, Indonesia Indonesia has rejected a push by the resort island of Bali for rare turtles to be legally slain in Hindu ceremonies, siding with conservationists of the protected reptiles against religious advocates, an official said Friday.
Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika enraged environmentalists by advocating a quota of 1,000 green turtles be killed each year, strictly for ceremonial purposes.
He said legally killed turtles should not end up in cooking pots, served to tourists in restaurants as soup or turtle skewers as they had in the past.
“It would be supervised tightly, and any violation would have to be punished,” Pastika told reporters in Denpasar, Bali, on Wednesday.
Turtle meat is a traditional delicacy in Bali, the only province with a Hindu majority in Indonesia’s Muslim-dominated archipelago. But Indonesia banned the turtle trade and consumption a decade ago amid international concerns about the endangered species’ dwindling numbers and threats by animal welfare groups of a tourist boycott of Bali.
Masyud, a spokesman for the Forestry Ministry, which is also responsible for animal conservation, said Friday the governor’s request for a Bali exemption from national protection laws was recently rejected on scientific advice.
“The law clearly mandates it was not possible, that the green turtles are included in the animals listed for protection,” said Masyud, who uses only one name.
Tens of thousands of green turtles nest on Indonesia’s coasts, but sites have dwindled because of poaching and development.