Proyecto Tortugas Marinas: Sea turtle conservation in north Peru

The Problem

In Tumbes (north Peru), 5 species of endangered sea turtles are highly threatened, facing a worrying mortality. From January to October 2008, my organization, “Proyecto Tortugas Marinas”, has registered over 200 stranded sea turtles in Tumbes’ beaches. Many of these animals are thought to have drowned by interaction with artisanal fishing nets. Furthermore, sea turtle ornamental use in the area is common and consumption of sea turtle meat and fat is extremely frequent. A forum organized by our organization and the Regional Government of Tumbes, led local townspeople to diagnose that domestic contamination at sea is also a main problem for sea turtles in Tumbes, as these and other species die eating these residues. Forum conclusions determined that environmental problems in the area are mainly caused by lack of environmental awareness and lack of alternative economic activities for fishermen.

Plan of Action

North Peru always interested me very much: I’d heard about threats to sea turtles in the area and I knew nothing was being done to solve these problems. After witnessing many problematic situations, I sat down and wrote our first project: “Assessment of Sea Turtle and Fishery Interaction in North Peru: Starting off Conservation Initiatives”. After sending many proposals to local companies and international foundations, “The Explorers Club”, the “Scott Neotropical Fund” and the National University of Tumbes finally gave us small grants to start our work. I then addressed local institutions for their official support and commitment towards sea turtle conservation. We began with volunteer trainings, meetings and fieldwork. The main impact we’ve made is that many local people now notice the importance and need for sea turtle conservation in Tumbes. Media now reports sea turtle mortality as a worrying problem; some fishermen now collaborate with sea turtle conservation; and institutions, professionals and students that work with us now are willing to continue with conservation initiatives, therefore promising sustainability of these efforts in the future.

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