Sea turtles are a highly threatened species group – with the majority of sea turtle populations across our oceans in decline. The biggest threat to juvenile and adult sea turtles is the incidental capture in fisheries, where they are often taken as bycatch.
An integrated approach to sea turtle conservation is required, which includes both preventative measures to mitigate bycatch mortality of sea turtles and proactive measures to support the recovery of critically endangered sea turtle populations. What is more, reconciling sea turtle conservation with continued fishing is essential, because it is politically and socio-economically unfeasible to halt all fishing activity throughout turtles’ global ranges.
Recognising these needs, the Blueprint for Action on Pacific Sea Turtles takes a holistic approach to turtle conservation in the Pacific ocean, which address multiple sources of anthropogenic mortality at critical stages in sea turtle’s life cycle. These include:
1.Effective protection of turtle nesting beaches through beach conservation, to maximize hatchling production
2.Reduced take of turtles in fisheries, to enhance at-sea survival of juveniles and adults at critical foraging areas and as they move into different developmental habitats by dealing with large-scale, commercial fishing fleets
3.Sustainability of traditional use in subsistence, small-scale and artisanal coastal fisheries
This action plan can be implemented via a conservation hierarchy approach, where the conservation hierarchy framework guides management actions to achieve no net loss of sea turtles. Here we map out how the Blueprint for Action on Pacific Sea Turtles can be implemented through the Conservation Hierarchy, and specific actions taken by different fisheries.