36 endangered sea turtles were rescued on Friday from a fishing boat in the Sok Kwu Wan Fish Culture Zone off Lamma Island.
Officers from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) were called to the scene shortly after 9am, after marine police spotted the suspicious raft.
According to reports, the AFCD found 25 green sea turtles and one hawksbill turtle on board. The creatures were taken to Ocean Park for veterinary checks.
Wild turtles are protected by the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance, which states that “no person shall, except in accordance with a special permit, have in his possession or under his control any live protected wild animal taken in Hong Kong.” Any person found disturbing , in possession of, or trying to sell a wild animal may be liable for a hefty fine and jail term.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the endangered green sea turtle is “threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites,” while Hawksbill turtles, a “fundamental link in marine ecosystems,” are considered “highly-valuable” and are “commonly sold as “tortoiseshell” in markets.”