Posted by Mike Crispino
1 August 2012
Sea turtle populations around the world are in trouble; threatened on all fronts from habitat loss to nesting ground destruction, predation and bycatch in some fisheries. There is good work being done in key regions of the world and we’re supporting those on-the-ground projects so that they can continue to help sea turtles thrive.
Leatherback Conservation in Bird’s Head Region, Papua Barat, Indonesia
The State University of Papua coordinated a community agreement to established and assign six persons from Saubeba village to participate in relocating “doomed” nests that would otherwise have been destroyed by high tides to safe areas above the high water mark and two hatcheries built at Wembrak beach. Community training workshops were held in relocation and hatchery management protocols in June 2010. A total of 2,600 hatchlings emerged and successfully made it into the water from the two hatcheries in Wembrak. Hatch success of nests and relocated clutches are low, and work is underway to determine ways to improve hatchling production.
Community-Based Leatherback Conservation in Solomon Islands.
The Nature Conservancy organized a project for monitoring and nest relocation, which is being carried out by trained community rangers. Project personnel were taught the correct protocol for relocating ‘doomed’ leatherback nests in preparation for the planned hatchery and relocation program next season. As of late January 2011, 156 leatherback nests had been laid at Sasakolo. Approximately 159 leatherback nests had been laid on Litogahira, but many of the nests have been collected for consumption.
Currently, there is no monitoring at Litogahira due to landowner disputes, however, negotiations will be undertaken with the landowners of Litogahira to ensure their support for leatherback work on this extremely important beach.
Prevention and Reduction of Marine Turtle Fishery Bycatch in Peru
Operating a high frequency radio from a fixed base station in Lima, Peru, Associacion Pro-Delphinus are able to communicate with fishermen at sea in real time. With support of ISSF, they were able to continue and expand this project, from approximately five communications per month to approximately 20 per month. Ports that have been engaged in the project now number nineteen and extend from Manta, Ecuador in the north to Iquique, Chile in the south, a distance of over 2,500 km.
When accounting for the crew member of each vessel contacted, the Radio Conservation has handed information on marine endangered fauna such as marine turtles to over 3000 fishermen operating along the Peruvian coast, including a few vessels from Ecuador and Chile. Workshops were conducted to train fishers on how to safely disentangle and remove hooks from bycatch turtles.
Hawksbill Conservation in Nicaragua
The Ocean Foundation-Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative – ICAPO tagged more than 60 female turtles, more than in the entire eastern Pacific combined to date. This has been a model project for integrating community members in the conservation effort in a short period of time and word of their work is spreading throughout the region.
ICAPO established beach hatcheries and protected more than 90% of all the nest laid in the area. They released more than 30,000 hatchlings and have enthusiastic support from the local communities.
Seychelles Islands Sea Turtle Conservation
Seychelles Islands Foundation organized proposal, which was approved in February 2011, to use satellite telemetry on green turtles nesting within the Aldabra Protected Area to establish post-nesting migrations and identify foraging areas these turtles go to outside the protected areas where they are exposed to other threats. This is being done within an outreach and education framework to address trans-boundary conservation issues.
Working with Local Fishermen to Mitigate Loggerhead Bycatch on Masirah Island, Oman
Environment Society of Oman (ESO) established and agreement with a leader in the local fishing community who owns several fishing boats, uses various fishing gear and processes and sells the fish to participate in this study. A workshop was held in November 2010 and this reinforced the working relationship with the community fishers that participated and the ESO who also have an ongoing community-based nesting beach monitoring program on Masirah. Work is underway to assess bycatch and train fishers in sea turtle bycatch mitigation activities.
Sea Turtle Conservation in Brazil
Proyecto Tamar monitored 30km of beaches from the Praia do Forte station on the coast of Bahia. The nesting season for loggerheads extends from September to March. This year, 6 tartarugueiros (local fishermen hired by TAMAR to patrol the beaches every day), a local agent, a biologist and four interns were responsible for data collection, management and environmental education activities.
Currently, more than 70% of nests remain in situ (original oviposition site for females), which has been identified as the best management strategy. The rest of the nests that were threatened by erosion or predation were relocated to safe sections of the beach or to hatcheries. From September 1, 2010 to January 31, 2011 Tamar and the community have protected 718 loggerhead nests and released 57,294 loggerhead hatchlings.
Mitigation of Turtle Meat Consumption on Santiago Island, Cape Verde
Cape Verde Sea Turtle Network (CVSTN) launched the “Nha Terra” (“This land is my land”) campaign to focus on the heritage of the marine turtle in Cape Verde and the need to preserve them for future generations. The main message is that, in common with the Capeverdian people, marine turtles leave their place of birth to travel the world, but remain Capeverdian and deserve to have a safe place in this country when they return to lay their eggs.
The archipelago of Cape Verde supports one of the largest loggerhead sea turtle nesting populations in the world, and extensive exploitation of turtles for their meat and eggs poses one of the biggest threats to this population. CVSTN sea turtle projects throughout Cape Verde have increasingly expanded their conservation efforts in an attempt to mitigate the high levels of exploitation occurring on nesting beaches. The CVSTN were able to initiate this outreach and training of enforcement and management personnel effort.