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Conservation of Pacific Sea Turtles

Peter Dutton, Dale Squires, and Mahfuzuddin Ahmed

Publication Year: 2011

Across the Pacific, populations of some species of sea turtles face extinction unless recent dramatic declines are reversed. The continuing decline of leatherbacks and loggerheads in particular illustrates the limitations of the current gradual and unilateral approach to conservation. Recovery requires instead a holistic solution that addresses all sources of mortality throughout the entire life history and habitat use of these transnational populations.

Historically conservation efforts have focused on nesting sites to protect eggs and breeding females; mortality from coastal and highseas fisheries was not addressed. In the past five years, these recovery efforts have widened to include rigorously curtailing fishing and technological fixes that lower rates of incidental sea turtle deaths during fishing. Although each of these approaches shows promise, it has become increasingly clear that they alone will not recover severely depleted populations.

Recognizing the urgency of the problem, this book presents ideas and case studies by conservation biologists, economists, marine life policy experts, fishing industry and fisheries professionals, management specialists, and development assistance researchers. It provides a new synthesis and blueprint for action that shifts the paradigm from piecemeal and unilateral conservation to a more holistic and multilateral approach to the recovery of Pacific sea turtle populations.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Contents

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pp. vii-ix

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Foreword by Senator Daniel K. Inouye

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pp. xi-xii

Island and coastal communities throughout the Pacific have strong relationships with sea turtles that span millennia. Some cultures have worshiped sea turtles, and others had taboos associated with certain uses. Over time, and as a result of increased human populations, coastal development, and technological advances, sea turtle populations and Pacific peoples’-...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

This book is the result of substantial effort by all the contributing authors to meet deadlines for drafts, peer review, and revisions, and as editors we are extremely grateful to them all. We offer our special thanks to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council and its executive director, Kitty Simonds, for sharing and supporting our vision for this work from ...

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Chapter 1. Introduction to the Conservation of Pacific Sea Turtles

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pp. 1-11

Recovery of Pacific sea turtle populations requires a holistic approach that addresses all sources of mortality. In the Pacific, populations of some species of sea turtles face extinction unless the recent dramatic declines are reversed. This issue has become so pressing that fisheries management must now address incidental takes of sea turtles, and in some fisheries this issue is driving fishery management. Recovery efforts have historically ...

Part One. Introduction

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pp. 13-

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Chapter 2. What Can Be Done to Restore Pacific Turtle Populations?: The Bellagio Blueprint for Action on Pacific Sea Turtles

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pp. 15-36

During 17–22 November 2003, a group of 25 economists, marine life policy experts, fishing industry and fisheries professionals, development assistance researchers, and conservation, sea turtle, and natural resource management specialists met in Bellagio, Italy, to draft a Blueprint for Action on Pacific Sea Turtles. The group recognized the serious state of sea turtle populations in the Pacific and the escalating nature of human ...

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Chapter 3. A Holistic Strategy for Pacific Sea Turtle Conservation

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pp. 37-59

Reconciling sea turtle conservation in the Pacific with continued fishing is essential for recovery of critically endangered sea turtle populations, such as eastern Pacific leatherbacks, because fishing will continue under any likely policy scenario. From a broader perspective, turtle recovery coupled with fishing can be viewed as reconciling biodiversity conservation with continued commercial use of marine resources. A holistic approach ...

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Chapter 4. Can We Improve Our Conservation Bang for the Buck?: Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Leatherback Turtle Conservation Strategies

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pp. 60-84

Pacific leatherbacks are among the most endangered sea turtles in the world. Threats to leatherbacks in the Pacific include at-sea mortality from fishing interactions and egg and hatchling mortality due to loss of nesting habitat, nest predation, egg harvest, and other beach-related activities. A number of scientific forums have agreed that addressing all sources of mortality is necessary to enable recovery of Pacific sea turtle populations ...

Part Two. Nesting Beaches

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pp. 85-

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Chapter 5. Nest Relocation A Necessary Management Tool for Western Pacific Leatherback Nesting Beaches

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pp. 87-96

Nest relocation, whether to a hatchery or another secure section of the beach, has been undertaken by many sea turtle monitoring programs to protect nests from inundation, predation, and/or human consumption and ensure successful incubation to hatching (e.g., Marcovaldi and Marco-valdi 1999; Dutton et al. 2005; Kornaraki et al. 2006). However, the process of collecting the eggs as they are being laid or excavating the nest after egg ...

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Chapter 6. Tragedy of the Malaysian Leatherback Population: What Went Wrong

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pp. 97-107

The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) has been described as the turtle of superlatives, being the largest living sea turtle species, the deepest diving, and the farthest roaming, among other feats. It is sometimes referred to as a living fossil and even once was thought to have been extinct until the first major rookery was discovered at Rantau Abang, Terengganu, in Malaysia in the early 1950s (Wyatt-Smith 1960; Siow 1978), ...

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Chapter 7. Conservation Project on Yakushima Island: The Biggest Nesting Site in Japan

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pp. 108-119

Yakushima Island is 135 km south of Kagoshima City, Kyushu, at latitude 30° 20′ N and longitude 130° 30′ E (Figure 7.1). It is conical in shape with a circumference of approximately 130 km and is 1,936 m above sea level. Its climate is tropical monsoon, but the mountains often get 1 m of snow. Thus, there is variation in temperature and annual precipitation level between the mountainous area and lowlands. Yakushima Island is sur-...

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Chapter 8. Importance of Networks for Conservation of the Pacific Leatherback Turtle: The Case of “Proyecto Laúd” in Mexico

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pp. 120-131

The story of leatherback turtle conservation in the Mexican Pacific has been one of mystery, discovery, despair, and, recently, hope. An important nesting beach for this population was not known to science until 1976, when San Juan Chacahua was first reported to host a large nesting colony. Little was known about the population’s abundance and distribution until Peter Pritchard conducted the first aerial survey along the Pacific coast of ...

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Chapter 9. Reconciling Dual Goals of Leatherback Conservation and Indigenous People’s Welfare: Community-Based Sea Turtle Conservation Initiative in Papua Barat, Indonesia

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pp. 132-147

In the Indonesian province of Papua Barat, leatherback turtle research started with a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) survey in the 1980s that reported hundreds of leatherback turtle tracks and nests along the northern Vogelkop coast (Bird’s Head Peninsula). The tracks were concentrated in the Sorong administrative district, and based on the findings, the local government was urged by WWF (Petocz 1987) to take...

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Chapter 10. Projeto TAMAR-ICMBio: Sharing Sea Turtle Conservation Experiences

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pp. 148-163

If conservation programs face difficulties surviving in nations referred to as “developed,” then in the so-called “developing countries” it is even harder to overcome obstacles. This is particularly true in Latin America, which is characterized by low social and economic indicators. Therefore, the success of any environmental conservation initiative demands a lot of The Brazilian government established the National Marine Turtle ...

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Chapter 11. Direct Incentive Approaches for Leatherback Turtle Conservation

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pp. 164-182

The plight of leatherback turtles in the Pacific has captured the attention of scientists and conservationists around the world. In the western Pacific, a number of projects have been developed to encourage local communities to refrain from harvesting turtles or their eggs and forgo other economic activities with the potential to degrade nesting beaches, such as logging. Although turtle protection is perceived as a benefit to...

Part Three. Fisheries-Related Conservation

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pp. 183-

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Chapter 12. Fisheries Impacts on Sea Turtles in the Pacific Ocean

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pp. 185-225

In the Pacific Ocean, fishing activities represent one of the greatest threats to sea turtle populations. Sea turtles are incidentally captured in commercial and recreational fisheries throughout their Pacific range, including areas adjacent to nesting beaches, in foraging grounds, and along migratory pathways. They are vulnerable to both gear in use (especially unmonitored gear with long soak times) and abandoned gear. Fishing gear that has ...

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Chapter 13. Managing Marine Turtles and Pelagic Fisheries on the High Seas

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pp. 226-247

The complex problem of how to conserve marine turtles in the Pacific Ocean is teaching us to think ecologically. These animals have complex lives, including a pelagic phase that exposes them to many types of impacts, both natural and human-related. Real solutions to protect marine turtles challenge managers, scientists, fishermen, environmentalists, and others to take practical steps in the direction of “ecosystem-based...

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Chapter 14. Which Commercial Swordfish Fishing Gear Is Best for Balancing Protected Species Conservation and Fishing Opportunity?

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pp. 248-276

A guiding principle in the regulation of production activities that generate negative externalities is to employ “cleaner” technologies—those that limit the level of environmental damage as much as possible for a given level of economic benefit. A potential Pareto improvement of stakeholders in both the environmentalist and fishing communities is embodied in the development and implementation of cleaner gear technologies with the ...

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Chapter 15. Sea Turtle Conservation in Peru: Limitations and Efforts

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pp. 277-289

The Peruvian marine ecosystem supports one of the world’s largest fisheries (Bakun and Weeks 2008). Extensive fishing activities, mainly in inshore waters, have led to an increase in marine vertebrate bycatch. The main taxa affected include sea turtles, small cetaceans, and seabirds, all of which are recovered for human consumption (Read et al. 1988; Awkerman...

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Chapter 16. Sea Turtle–Fisheries Interactions in Coastal Fisheries: A Case Study of the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia

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pp. 290-318

Fisheries provide important food sources to many people around the world and contribute substantially to the livelihoods of coastal communities. In rural coastal areas where sources of income are limited, local communities have for decades and through generations depended extensively on fisheries resources. Developing countries currently supply 70% of fish for human consumption (Food and Agriculture Organization 2004). ...

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Chapter 17. Can Coastal Fisheries Bear the Cost of Sea Turtle Conservation?: Evidence from the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia

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pp. 319-349

The threats of incidental catch of sea turtles are widely recognized and are becoming a major issue in fisheries management with increasing studies that record the impacts of fishing operations on sea turtles (Frazier and Montero 1990; Aguilar et al. 1995; Ovaretz 1999; Peckham et al. 2007; Alfaro-Shigueto and Mangel, chapter 15 [this volume]; Yeo et al., chapter 16 [this volume]). Recognition is growing of the need to minimize the ...

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Chapter 18. Performance and Technology Standards in International Environmental Agreements: Potential Lessons for Sea Turtle Conservation and Recovery

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pp. 350-369

Performance and technology standards, key features of many international environmental agreements (IEAs) for common and public resources, are policy tools that can contribute to the conservation of Pacific sea turtle populations. Many such standards have been applied in other IEAs, including the conservation of dolphins in the eastern Pacific Ocean, polar bears in the Arctic, fur seals in the North Pacific, and seals in the...

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Chapter 19. Policies to Reduce Stochastic Sea Turtle Bycatch: An Economic Efficiency Analysis

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pp. 370-395

Reducing or eliminating sea turtle bycatch is an essential component of a holistic strategy to promote recovery of Pacific sea turtle populations (Bellagio Conference on Sea Turtles Steering Committee 2004). The options for reducing bycatch depend, among other things, on (1) the targeted species; (2) whether the fishing is conducted by vessels of low-, middle-, or high-income countries; (3) whether the fishing is conducted ...

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Chapter 20. The Conservation of Sea Turtles under the Law of the Sea Convention, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and the WCPF Convention

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pp. 396-414

Taken cumulatively, a number of specific and general international instruments provide the international legal and policy framework for the conservation of sea turtles (Hykle 1999). This chapter assesses the effectiveness of three of the general instruments in the conservation of sea turtles in the western and central Pacific region: (1) the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Law of the Sea Convention), (2) the ...

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Chapter 21. Trade and the Environment Implications for Sea Turtle Conservation and Management

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pp. 415-425

Production from commercial fisheries plays an increasingly large part in sustainable development and remains an underpinning of the economies of many coastal developing countries, as well as an important component of international trade. In light of this, the international community is challenged to reconcile the economic and food-security value of such production in the context of the impact commercial fishing is having on ...

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Appendix: Action Plan Developed by the Nesting Beach Working Group as Part of the Bellagio Sea Turtle Conservation Initiative Workshop Held in Terengganu, Malaysia (July 2007)

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pp. 427-458

Recent studies show that the western Pacific leatherbacks consist of a metapopulation composed of scattered small aggregations nesting on the islands and areas throughout the region, with a dense focal point on the northwestern coast of Papua Barat, Indonesia (Dutton et al. 2007). Populations in the Pacific have collapsed, and although there are still relatively large numbers...

List of Contributors

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pp. 459-469

Index

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pp. 471-481


E-ISBN-13: 9780824860196
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824834074

Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Sea turtles -- Effect of fishing on -- Pacific Ocean.
  • Sea turtles -- Conservation -- Pacific Ocean.
  • Leatherback turtle -- Conservation -- Pacific Ocean.
  • Sea turtles -- Habitat -- Conservation -- Pacific Ocean.
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