Japan and the illegal trafficking of sea turtles

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Japan and the illegal trafficking of sea turtles

The Shell Shocked - Japan's role in the illegal tortoiseshell trade report, published by WFF, TRAFFIC and the Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund, speaks extremely clearly. We can read that: "Japan's customs records report 564 kg of Hawksbill turtles seized in 71 incidents between 2000 and 2019, representing around 530 Hawksbill turtles.

More than half were seized between 2015 and 2019 alone. Government spot checks, continued use of turtle shells, and their links to active manufacturing industry raise serious doubts that reported stocks truly reflect pre-1993 turtle shell stocks.

National legislation is primarily based. on manufacturers who self-declare their transaction records and stock balance and exempts most turtle shell products from registration requirements. 2019 instant survey of major online auction platforms found more than 8,200 sales of embry turtle products cate for a total value of approximately 102 million yen or close to one million US dollars.

However, less than 1% of these sales fell under national legislation, leaving the rest as de facto unregulated legal trade given the lack of rules governing the trade in finished products."

Japan and the illegal trafficking of sea turtles

Japan is among the countries most involved in the illegal trafficking of sea turtles.

The shells of these turtles, due to their design and their particularity, are often used to make various ornaments known in Japan as bekko. According to various estimates, the stocks of products derived from turtles should have been completely exhausted by some time; however, the newly published document reveals that they would still be available today: according to a 2017 inventory, of the 188.4 tons of raw shells reported to the Japanese government in 1995, 28.7 tons still remained.

The international trade in turtles was banned in 1977 by the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora, but some states such as Japan have established a formal reserve to maintain active international trade.