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Sea turtle Symposium calls for better monitoring and protection of habitats


Goa, April 29th, 2010 - The 30th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation ended today with a strong call by participants for increased scientific monitoring and protection of marine turtle habitats from developmental threats.

“This symposium has offered researchers and conservationists across the world to share notes, both on the latest science on these enigmatic species, and the latest threats facing them”, said Dr. Kartik Shanker from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, and President of the International Sea Turtle Society, at a press conference to mark the concluding day of the symposium.

The need to involve local fishing communities in turtle conservation and developmental decisions was a recurring theme throughout the symposium, as restrictions on industries and mechanized fishing have the potential to protect the ecosystem, reduce turtle bycatch and simultaneously protect the fisheries resources of traditional fishing communities.

“Artisanal fishers and turtles today face the same threats – rampant coastal development and industrial fishing operations that respect neither turtles nor small fishers. The challenge before researchers, conservationists and political leaders is to institute mechanisms that ensure the health of the ecosystems which both turtles and fishermen rely on. It’s important that fishers are made partners in conservation efforts, and have a say in decisions that could affect their livelihood,” continued Dr. Shankar.

The symposium also saw the circulation of a petition backed by a number of Indian conservation groups calling for a 25 km. buffer between turtles nesting beaches and any new ports, and a 10 km. ‘no development’ zone around all of India’s mass nesting beaches.

“It’s clear that today, ports, oil and gas extraction and coastal industries pose possibly the greatest threat to turtle habitats. All of Orissa’s mass nesting areas are threatened by upcoming or proposed ports, and this situation is being repeated in many other countries,” said internationally renowned turtle biologist Dr. Jack Frazier of the Smithsonian Institution. “This is clearly unsustainable and it’s important that both the political and conservationist establishments act to protect these habitats before it is too late.”

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was extremely supportive of the symposium, and of marine turtle conservation. The Government of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was the major sponsor of the symposium, which was organised by the International Sea Turtle Society, in partnership with the Centre for Ecological Sciences/Indian Institute of Science (IISc), National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT), Foundation for Ecological Research, Learning and Advocacy (FERAL) and Dakshin Foundation. The event brought together over 500 individuals from more than 50 countries across the world, making it one of the largest international conferences on ecology and conservation to be held in India.


For further information, visit india.seaturtle.org/symposium2010

 

 

 

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