The IOSEA and Pawikan Conservation Project

I learned about the IOSEA — the Indian Ocean – South-East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding, from a link to my blog post about the giant Pacific leatherback turtle that washed up off an island in the central Philippines.

Based in Thailand, IOSEA is co-located with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (UNEP/ROAP).

Turtles and other sea creatures obviously do not recognize our geographical borders, so it is great to learn about organizations dedicated to protection and conservation efforts from a global standpoint, and focused on specific regions.

Website introduction: The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia puts in place a framework through which States of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asian region, as well as other concerned States, can work together to conserve and replenish depleted marine turtle populations for which they share responsibility. 

...In the context of sustainable development, the conservation and management of marine turtles globally and within the Indian Ocean – South-East Asian region presents a formidable challenge.

Many communities still utilise marine turtles for their meat and eggs, as a source of protein, and their shell for artisanal crafts. At the same time, marine turtles have both intrinsic and ecological values as important components of marine ecosystems.

Threatened or endangered in many parts of the world, they are considered as flagship species on which to base interventions aimed at protecting habitats of importance to a myriad of other marine species.

Major threats to marine turtles include unsustainable exploitation, destruction of nesting and feeding habitats, and incidental mortality in fishing operations...

A very sick turtle which is a recent rescue – Photo by Dave Ryan via Pawikan Conservation Project

From a recent feature story article: A sad reminder about the deadly impact of waste on marine turtles

…Once at the vet, they took a  blood sample and x-rays revealed a blockage in the digestive system. Unfortunately, despite all the care the turtle died and the autopsy revealed a shocking result. Dozens of meters of nylon ropes and pieces of hard plastics were found in the stomach.

…this was not an isolated case. Every year, the care centre receives wild marine turtles injured  because of human activities, all of them having ingested some plastic waste. In the best cases, the individuals reject the waste in their faeces, but in the worst cases, they die from intestinal blockage. Click here to read the article

The site has detailed and country-specific information, e.g. on the status of the leatherback turtles in the Philippines, by Renato Cruz, including leatherback sightings from the Pawikan Conservation Project.

The Pawikan Conservation Project is another organization dedicated to saving sea turtles in the Philippines (“pawikan” is Filipino for marine turtles).

Let us do what we can to support these conservation efforts!  We can all reduce our plastics use, and help to keep our beaches clean so that these items do not end up in our oceans.

Turtle eggs being buried in sand at the Bantay Pawikan Hatchery
Photo by Dave Ryan, via Pawikan Conservation in the Philippines