Muscat: A new Ministerial Decision intends to regulate Oman’s Turtle Reserve, in order to protect the turtles and allow for safe visits by the public.
A new Ministry of Environment Decision has been issued, in order to regulate visitation to the Turtle Reserve, and protect its wildlife and animals from harm.
“Sea turtles are an important part of Oman’s natural heritage. If we would like to see them continue to visit Oman’s nesting beaches for generations to come, it is necessary to ensure that these beaches are well managed,” said Suaad Al Harthi, programme director at the Environmental Society of Oman (ESO).
“Sea turtles are sensitive to disturbance, noise and light, we therefore appreciate the Ministry’s regulation efforts and encourage their enforcement,” she added.
The new law prohibits visitors from being able to enter the reserve, camp, or spend the night, without prior permit from the Ministry of Environment. Individuals are also not allowed to bring pets with them inside the reserve.
Individuals must also be accompanied by registered monitors or guides whenever they want to enter the turtle nesting beaches at night.
A maximum of 80 people are allowed to camp at the reserve at any given time, and only in Ministry specified areas. Individuals are not allowed to drive at a speed of more than 50 km/h inside the reserve, and are prohibited from driving their cars on the beach.
Individuals may not perform any action that is harmful to the turtles nesting in the reserve.
“It is not allowed to disturb the turtles by touching them, or approach them while they are moving on the beaches, or touch their eggs, or move them, or collect them,” the Decision said.
Individuals should not disturb any animals or birds, and should not damage trees and plant life inside the reserve. No power generators or camera lights of any kind may be used for photography after 10 pm. LED lighting cannot be installed outdoors. Also, any bright lights or fires cannot be used near the turtle nesting grounds.
No group games or activities may be practiced near the turtle nesting grounds, and diving is prohibited except in specified areas.
Garbage and waste items must be placed in appropriate areas in the reserve.
Areas for fishing are also specified in the Decision, and allow for fishing with particular types of hooks and fishing nets.
Fees for entering the reserve is also included in the Decision, with separate prices for Omanis and non-Omanis.
Omani adults have to pay OMR1 for a day visit, OMR3 for a day visit including diving, and OMR4 for visiting, diving, and staying the night.
Non-Omanis on the other hand have to pay OMR3 per day, OMR6 for a one day visit including diving, and OMR8 for visiting, diving, and staying the night.
Omani children below the age of 16 will be charged 100 baizas for entry per day, and OMR1 for an overnight stay. Non-Omani children will be charged OMR1 for entry per day, and OMR3 for an overnight visit.
Children on a school trip, whether Omani or non-Omani, will be charged 100 baizas per day, and charged OMR1 for an overnight stay.
Any individual who violates the rules will have to pay an administrative fee of no less than OMR50, and no more than OMR300, and repeat offenders will have to pay double the amounts.