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VietNamNews

Red-eared turtle imports banned to protect ecosystem

Update: August, 23/2010 - 10:10
A red-eared slider turtle. The animals are considered an invasive species and harmful to local ecosystems in southern Vinh Long Province. — VNS File Photo

A red-eared slider turtle. The animals are considered an invasive species and harmful to local ecosystems in southern Vinh Long Province. — VNS File Photo

HCM CITY — The General Department of Aquaculture will work with the General Department of Customs to enforce a ban on the import of the red-eared slider, a turtle that is considered an invasive species and harmful to local ecosystems.

The turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) is semi-aquatic and eats a variety of animals and plants, including fish, crayfish, carrion, snails, crickets and numerous aquatic plant species.

Vu Van Tam, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the ministry would also ban breeding of red-eared sliders.

The General Department of Aquaculture is conducting a nationwide inspection on imports of aquatic animals, including the red-eared slider, and will issue a full list by the end of the year on aquatic animals that pose substantial threats to the country's ecosystems.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will then draft new regulations on the management of imported aquatic animals.

Under these regulations, violators that breed or set free any creature that damages the environment will be fined up to VND20 million (US$1,050).

The ministry has asked the General Department of Aquaculture to work with the Can Tho aquaculture import-export joint-stock company to re-export thousands of red-eared turtles the company imported several months ago.

Red-eared sliders have been imported into Viet Nam during the past several years.

These turtles are sold at many shops in major cities, making their trade difficult to control, according to PhD Le Xuan Canh from the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources.

The ministry has asked the aquaculture department to offer guidance to local authorities in efforts to eliminate the turtles from local rivers, ponds and rice fields. — VNS

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