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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.