Marine turtle conservation

A marine turtle hatchling

Project title: Marine turtle conservation programme: Support for community based marine turtle nesting beach conservation and bycatch reduction in Viet Nam

Location: Viet Nam including pilot sites: coastal communities in Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Ba-ria Vung Tau and Kien Giang Province

Duration: 2006 – 2016

Project background: With over 3,000 km of coastline and thousands of offshore islands, Viet Nam is home to a wide range of species, including marine turtles. In Viet Nam, marine turtles are protected by both international and national legislation. Despite current laws, threats to marine turtles have increased due to the accidental and opportunistic capture by fishers; direct taking of nesting females and their eggs; and commercial hunting of hawksbill turtles for the shells for the international market.

Marine turtles used to nest in 13 of the 27 coastal provinces of Viet Nam. With the exception of the nesting population of green turtles in Con Dao, the number of green, hawksbill, leatherback and Olive Ridley turtles nesting each year has declined significantly over the last 30 years. Similarly, with the exception of the protected beaches on Con Dao and at Nui Chua, a significant and mostly non-commercial harvest of nesting turtles and eggs still occurs for each species.

To raise awareness of local communities on marine biodiversity conservation and support marine turtle conservation, IUCN has been working with partners and the communities to support the marine turtle conservation volunteer network in the pilot sites through nesting beach and bycatch monitoring; conduct communications, education and awareness raising activities; and support preparation and implementation of the Marine Turtle Conservation Action Plan (MTCAP) 2015-2025.

Since 2014, IUCN has initiated the marine turtle conservation VOLUNTEER  programme in partnership with Con Dao National Park, Hon Cau Marine Protected Area and Nui Chua National Park.

The objectives of the sea turtle conservation volunteer program is to (i) Enhance awareness  in communities about the value and importance of sea turtles by creating an opportunity for them to be involved in marine turtle research and conservation, (ii) Provide training for volunteers to assist staff in marine turtle conservation areas; (iii) Build capacity for marine turtle conservation programs at important sites.

The IUCN marine turtle conservation volunteer programme has been receiving  lots of  interest from people who come from all walks of life.  For 3 years, IUCN has received around 3,000 applicants and we have been able to select around 10% of  these people to join our volunteer scheme  due to the special requirements of the selected site and programme.

The positive results of the volunteer programme have been shown and evaluated by volunteers. In  coming time, IUCN is planning to extend the volunteer programme to other nesting sites in order to further protect sea turtles and their habitats in Viet Nam. 

Objectives of the project:

  • Promote community-based conservation of marine turtles and their habitats, which entails identifying and enhancing benefits of marine biodiversity conservation for local communities and increasing knowledge about threats to nesting and migrating marine turtles

  • Support the development and implementation of Marine Turtle Conservation Action Plan for period 2015-2025

Expected outputs:

  • Raised awareness about critical conservation issues with communities and the wider public as well as with governmental institutions at the policy level.

  • Identification of key trade routes, harvest and trade volumes, uses, and ‘hot-spots’ for trade and shared information on the illegal international trade, such as smuggling methods and trade flows, among neighbouring countries to support sea turtle conservation efforts.

  • Reinforced and continued raised awareness among fishermen and local authorities regarding the status of sea turtle populations, existing laws and regulations.

  • Encouragement of fishermen to use fishing methods and technology that minimise bycatch rate of sea turtle.

  • Strengthened enforcement activities in close collaboration and participation with the relevant agencies through the implementation of the Marine Turtle Conservation Action Plan (2015-2025).

Donor: United States Fish and Wildlife Services

Partners: Department of Conservation and Aquatic Resources Development  (DECAP), Viet Nam Fisheries Administration, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; WWF Viet Nam; TRAFFIC Southeast Asia-Indochina; Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV); Institute of Marine Environment and Resources (IMER); and Department of Fisheries/Aquatic Resources Protection Division in selected coastal provinces.

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