Our investigations revealed
Dominican Republic (March 2006)
- 50,000 marine turtle products available for sale in 249 shops.
- Over 95 percent of the businesses surveyed in Santa Domingo, traded in marine turtle products, mostly jewelry and decorative products.
Colombia (March 2006)
- Hawksbill turtle shell products were available in 60 shops in three coastal cities surveyed.
- Roadside vendors were also selling marine turtle eggs.
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico (May 2007)
- Wildlife products were available in half of the 500 stores visited in seven port areas of the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Many products for sale were imported from Asia such as red and pink, corals, abalone and a wide variety of other shells.
- Queen conch and black coral were widely available. Tourists may be required to obtain special permits for these souvenirs from the country of purchase before they are allowed in their home country.
Learn more by reading Cruising with a Conscience
What we found
Tourists, traders and the tourism industry are largely unaware of complex regulations on international trade. Tourists don’t think twice about buying wildlife like Mexican parrots and products made from turtles, iguanas and coral which are protected by domestic or international laws. Shop keepers seemed unaware that some of the wildlife products on sale required export permits or may be illegal to take back to the United States or Europe. There have been reports of wildlife smugglers posing as cruise tourists, using the anonymity of mass tourism to poach rare species.
In several market surveys, TRAFFIC found thousands of marine turtle products for sale in ports and markets throughout the Caribbean including hawksbill turtle shell products, despite the fact that this species is critically endangered and protected under domestic and international laws.