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Turtle Eggs Found In Mail

Joint Media Release From MAF, Customs And The Department Of Conservation

JULY 12 2002

Turtle Eggs Found In Mail

An attempt to smuggle eggs of the endangered sea turtle into New Zealand by mail has been foiled. Sending the eggs to New Zealand breached international rules preventing trade in endangered species and put this country’s biosecurity at risk.

The 48 eggs were discovered by MAF Quarantine officers in a parcel at the Auckland International Mail Centre earlier this week.

They were being posted from Sarawak in Malaysia to an address in a provincial town in New Zealand.

The Wildlife Enforcement Group (WEG), a joint operational group of MAF, Customs and Department of Conservation, is investigating, together with the MAF Special Investigation Group which investigates biosecurity breaches. The investigators have seized some items from the address the eggs were destined for.

WEG spokesman Peter Younger says the sea turtle cheloniidae is under threat of extinction, and taking the eggs is prohibited by the international convention preventing trade in endangered species, CITES.

Offences under the Trade in Endangered Species Act carry potential penalties of a $100,000 fine, or five years in prison or both.

Peter Younger says it appears the eggs were scooped up from a nest on a beach, as they were still covered in sand.

“Because they were so fresh, and packed in sand, they presented a significant biosecurity risk to New Zealand, as they could easily have been carrying pests or diseases.”

A number of the eggs were damaged. The eggs are considered a delicacy in some Asian countries, and WEG believes this shipment was destined for the table, rather than for breeding.

Investigations will continue in New Zealand and Malaysia.

Ends

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