Campaign to stop turtle egg consumption is hurting Ostional program, locals say

July 26, 2013

Residents of Ostional Beach in the northwestern province of Guanacaste are angry at recent media and social networks campaigns aimed at reducing sea turtle egg consumption, saying the campaigns are hurting a local program to legally sell a portion of the eggs and protect the rest.

Locals say the death of young Costa Rican environmentalist Jairo Mora on a Caribbean beach in May caused a 50 percent decrease in sales of turtle eggs in that area.

Ostional is the only beach in the country where harvesting turtle eggs is legal. The National System of Conservation Areas in 2007 approved a plan for the sustainable marketing of olive ridley turtle eggs that became the main source of income for some 200 Ostional residents. 

In return, locals protect seven kilometers of beach, where thousands of turtles arrive to nest every year in what is called an “arribada.” During a five-day arribada, nesting turtles will leave up to 10 million eggs in Ostional.

Residents alternate to patrol the beach in order to prevent turtles from destroying eggs laid in previous days. They also ensure that at least one million turtles reach the ocean every year.

Arribadas also attract thousands of tourists each year to Ostional, and residents are urging conservation groups to clarify that the sale of turtle eggs is legal in that community.

Environmental groups Preserve Planet and Pretoma this week launched a campaign that includes a video tribute to Mora and a series of posters displaying messages against the consumption of turtle eggs.

Groups also are using a Facebook page to post messages asking people to denounce and send pictures of bars and other businesses that sell turtle eggs.

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