Managing the trade-off between fishing activities and sea turtles conservation in Northeast Brazil
by Northeast Center for Environmental Research (CEPAN) / Yedda Christina Bezerra Barbosa de Oliveira
Sea turtles are long-lived species, with low recruitment and delayed sexual maturity. They depend on the high survival of reproductive individuals, but the major interaction between fisheries and sea turtles occurs during those life-stages. Paraiba (Northeast Brazil) is an area of occurrence for four threatened species of sea turtles: breeding ground for the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, and foraging grounds and developmental habitats for the endangered green turtle, and the vulnerable loggerhead and olive ridley turtles. This area is also marked by artisanal fishery, in which the period of intense activity overlaps the rise on strandings and mortalities of turtles. As a rural coastal region, there are socioeconomic conditions driving the lack of planning and organization as well as several problems related to the exploitation and degradation of this ecosystem.
Our main goal with this project is to strengthen the community participation in sea turtles conservation, helping locals to be the protagonist in a sustainable fishery. Fishing activities are between the most threats for marine animals, and the mitigation of their risks improve the survival of individuals.
We intend to
- reduce the impacts of incidental capture of sea turtles by recording the bycatch occurrences and replacing the most hazardous fishing gears,
- engage local members in community-based monitoring by bringing fishermen leaders as part of our core team, and
- promote public communication, education, and awareness through capacity building and meetings at the fishing villages.