The central province of Quang Tri has a 75-km coast line, 90% of which is white sandy beach that is ideal habitat for egg-laying by marine turtles. In 2005-2006, the Leatherback turtle or rua da (Demochelys coriacea), one of world’s most endangered turtles, laid eggs here.
Given Quang Tri’s importance for the survical of this species in Vietbam, IUCN is working in the province to support community-based marine turtle conservation. On March 20-21, IUCN collaborated with the Provincial Sub-Department of Fisheries Resources Protection and Hai An Secodary School on a communication campaign to raise awareness and to issue a call for action for local communities to protect marine turtles and their habitats .
“There is a lot of concern associated with the development of the area. For example, there is a boom in coastal shrimp aquaculture, tourism, and swimming beaches that create problems for marine turtle reproduction. The turtles cannot breed effectively when disturbed and a dense population and large amount of noise can easily hinder reproduction.” said Hoàng Đình Liên, Deputy Director of DARD, Quang Tri Province.
500 students and teachers from primary schools in Hai An Commune joined members of local fishing communities on the campaign. The campaign included photo exhibitions, a film on marine turtles, singing performances, sporting competitions (such as cycling to deliver conservation messages), and beach cleaning. The target group are students. The aim is to raise their awareness of marine turtle conservation and habitat protection and to encourage them to become active communicators for conservation in the community. If we can help the next generation understand the importance of turtle protection and beach cleaning, then they can lead the way in maintaining a clean and healthy habitat for marine turtles in the future.
This campaign may already have had an impact: DARD and and local authorities collaborated to release a 60-kg Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) into the sea after it was caught by a local fisherman on October 28. Before its release the turtle was tagged with an electronic card so that its location can be tracked.