It is sad that people keep dying for less. As far as we know, this is not the first time people have died in Pemba after eating turtle meat. Pemba is a closely knit society, thus it is also safe to assume that many people are aware of the fact that turtle meat is poisonous.
We thus support the government's decision to ban turtle fishing, not only because it would protect this animal but would also save lives. Continued fishing of turtles will only lead to adverse effects.
However, since people continue risking their lives, perhaps more needs to be done to understand why the meat is worth all the risk. It would be wise to learn more and establish the real reasons why the meat is so popular on the islet despite all the risks involved. That would be a starting point in attempts to change the people's mindsets so that they stop fishing and eating the meat altogether.
According to reports from Pemba, people who ate the poisonous meat did so secretly, and many of them died because by the time they sought medical help, it was too late. This is cause for concern as the incident proves that people were aware of the fact that what they were doing was not appropriate. But still, why would over sixty people take the trouble of eating poisonous meat of an animal that had been illegally caught? These are the questions that need to be addressed before any attempts to assist people of Pemba and those along the coastline who have a craving for turtle meat as a delicacy.
The World Conservation Union classifies the turtle as critically endangered species and warns further that fishing practices threaten the turtles' populations with extinction. While their number would only disturb the ecosystem, there is need to educate people on the importance of preserving the animals.
Also, more efforts should be made to ensure people become aware that some outdated practices are not only harmful to them but the entire ecosystem. In this era, it is not difficult to reach out to people and sensitize them on the consumption of turtle, which is not only hazardous to their well-being but also to their environment.