Regulations & Responsibilites
There are a number of marine animals in Vanuatu that are either endangered or of ecological significance, and restrictions apply on their import and export. Vanuatu became a signatory to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) concerning the protection of wild fauna and flora, in 1989. CITES outlines a number of marine species, which either prohibit or require a permit for their exportation. We, therefore, encourage all tourists to be aware of these items to either discourage the purchase of endangered species or obtain the appropriate permits prior to taking them home.
The most commonly found turtles in Vanuatu are;
Marine Mammals (EG. dugongs, whales, dolphins)
Marine mammals, which included dugongs, whales and dolphins reside in the waters of Vanuatu. Dolphins are a common sight, particularly in Havannah Harbour, and regularly ride the bow of cruising yachts and catamarans. Whales visit Vanuatu waters mostly in the winter months from July to October. While sightings of dugongs are regularly reported in Havannah Harbour and Pango Beach on Efate and also in Lamen Bay in Epi Island. In Vanuatu , all marine mammals are protected in the Vanuatu Marine Mammal Sanctuary, which encompasses all of Vanuatu waters and inhibits any person from killing, harming or harassing these animals. The import or export of these animals or any associated products are also prohibited.
There are number of species of coral that require a permit from the Vanuatu Department of Environment and Conservation prior to their export. These include families of;
The iconic Coconut Crab is the largest arthropod in the world, growing to up to 1m in length and 4kg in weight. The claws of these unique hermit crabs are powerful enough to crack open coconuts, from which they are aptly named, but as omnivores they also feed on animals including rats and birds. In Vanuatu, size limits have been put in place as well as yearly quotas for various provinces, to ensure their sustainable management. however, if you do decide to make them your main course, please be aware of the controversial nature associated to this species.
The Trumpet Shell, which is also known as the Triton Snail is the largest marine snail in Vanuatu's waters. This carnivorous mollusc is not only remarkable for its beautiful shell but is also of cultural significance to a number of Pacific Islands for its use as a ceremonial trumpet. What makes this species of snail so unique and important is that it is one of the very few predators to the Crown of Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci). On occasion, the Trumpet shell is sold at local markets for tourists to purchase, however, this is strictly prohibited in Vanuatu and we discourage the purchase of this shell. For further information see the Vanuatu Fisheries Regulations Booklet as listed below.
Giant Clam Shells (Tridacna sp. & Hippopus sp.)
Restrictions apply for the import and export of Giant Clam Shells for species of Tridacna and Hippopus. Exportation of these products from Vanuatu, requires a permit issued by the Department of Environment and Conservation.
Nautilus & Cowrie shells
Nautilus & Cowrie shells are commonly sold in shops and at market stalls throughout the province of SHEFA. A permit is required by the Vanuatu Department of Environment and Conservation prior to their exportation overseas
Further information on import & export of marine species