Representatives from 25 countries agreed on a series of measures to strengthen marine turtle conservation in and around the Indian Ocean at the Seventh meeting of the Indian Ocean-South-East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding Signatory States (IOSEA SS7). IOSEA also launched the IOSEA Network of Sites of Importance for Marine Turtles at the meeting.
IOSEA is an intergovernmental agreement that coordinates conservation efforts for six turtle species under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It has 35 signatory States.
IOSEA SS7 reviewed progress on the implementation of the IOSEA Conservation and Management Plan and its Technical Support and Capacity Building Programme. Participants also addressed: illegal take and trade of marine turtles, particularly in South-East Asia; socio-economic and cultural implications of marine turtle use and conservation; marine turtle genetic stocks; and fisheries-turtle interactions. Participants further discussed threats to marine turtles, such as disturbance from light pollution at nesting beaches and accidental drowning in fishing operations.
“The launch of the IOSEA network of sites is a major milestone for transboundary conservation of marine turtles in the Indian Ocean,” said Douglas Hykle, Coordinator, IOSEA. “The network will help to focus and connect a wide range of conservation efforts.” It will promote linkages among oceanic, near-shore and terrestrial habitats used by turtles throughout their life cycles and facilitate coordination of conservation activities.
The IOSEA Marine Turtle Site Network initially includes 10 sites from nine countries, selected for their importance for marine turtles and other biodiversity. The sites are: Itsamia, Comoros; Europa Island, France; Sheedvar Island, Iran; Thameehla Island, Myanmar; Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary, the Philippines; Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles; iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site, South Africa; Rufiji – Mafia Seascape, Tanzania; and Bu Tinah Shoal and Sir Bu Na'air, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The IOSEA Marine Turtle agreement “is one of the most successful of the CMS family of instruments aimed at promoting the conservation of migratory species world-wide,” declared CMS Executive Secretary Bradnee Chambers at the meeting. He said targeted action under IOSEA can help address threats to sea turtles, including climate change, marine debris and wildlife crime, and informed participants that threats to marine species are a key item on the agenda of the upcoming 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS (CMS COP 11).
IOSEA will produce an Executive Summary of the meeting, which was held 8-11 September 2014 in Bonn, Germany.