A man in south-central Vietnam was sentenced to several years in prison for buying and selling an enormous quantity of turtle shells which belong to highly threatened species.
The municipal court in Nha Trang, the capital city of Khanh Hoa Province, gave Hoang Tuan Hai a jail term of four years and six months for “infringing regulations on protecting endangered animals with protection priorities” on Monday, capping a four-year case.
In November 2014, the local authorities seized over five metric tons of turtle shells during an inspection at a facility owned by Hai, which turned them into souvenirs.
One month later, shells from 4,379 turtles and 3,855 giant clams were found at another one, also run by Hai.
Up to 4,372 of the first group came from hawkbills, the rest from green sea turtles and loggerheads, according to the Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography, which said all the confiscated items are parts of marine creatures whose risk of extinction is ‘high’ or ‘extremely high.’
|A woman carries a chair in front of handicraft booths of a market in Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Since Hai was brought to trial, souvenir shops in Nha Trang have ceased selling products made of turtle shells as the owners fear punishment for the activity.
Such items are no longer provided as local fishermen are afraid to catch turtles, an shop owner in Nha Trang said.
A number of customers avoid buying turtle shell products “because they believe that as turtles are slow, bringing them home would make business subdued and invite bad luck,” another souvenir seller said.