The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) is undertaking measures to protect the nesting site of Green Sea Turtles in Panikian Island in the town of Pitogo, Zamboanga del Sur.
Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez, DENR-9 executive director, made the announcement on Tuesday as she confirmed that Panikian Island has been identified as one of the high nesting aggregations of Green Sea Turtles in the country.
The Green Sea Turtle, with the scientific name Chelonia Mydas, is listed as an endangered species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international organization working in nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
Rodriguez, said part of the measures to protect the nesting site in Panikian Island is to tap the assistance of the local government unit of Pitogo.
She said they are drafting a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between her office and the Pitogo municipal government with specific actions geared toward the protection of the nesting site from egg-laying until the release of hatchlings to include the Green Sea Turtle.
“Green turtles are facing various threats, such as harvesting, habitat degradation, and pollution in feeding and nesting areas and climate change,” Rodriguez said.
“We in the DENR-9 have strived to effectively collaborate with partners and stakeholders and we welcome efforts that contribute to our common goal,” she added.
A group of environmental advocates recently called for the closure of Panikian Island, which has become an attraction for both local and foreign tourists.
Panikian Island, locally known as Turtle Island, entices tourists due to its white sand and pristine beaches, aside from the opportunity to witness the Green Sea Turtles laying eggs, as well as to touch the sea creatures.
Environmental advocates have raised concerns about poaching and harvesting of eggs aside from human disturbance of the Green Sea Turtles after photographs of people holding hatchlings in Panikian Island recently went viral on social media. (PNA)