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June 21, 2011

International Cooperation Key to Protecting Sea Turtles, says Humane Society International

Inter-American Convention on the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles celebrates tenth anniversary with progress

Humane Society International

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica—Humane Society International commends the long overdue adoption by the Inter-American Convention on the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC) of improved data collection and reporting procedures.

“These data collection procedures and standardized reporting methods are an encouraging sign of progress towards the sort of increased cooperation that is necessary to save sea turles,” said Cynthia Dent, HSI’s regional director for Latin America in Costa Rica.

The IAC is a regional agreement to coordinate international efforts to protect sea turtles, and held its fifth meeting recently on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. HSI participated as an official observer to the proceedings and urged member countries to streamline efforts to protect these ancient and threatened animals.

HSI was disappointed that only nine of the 15 member countries sent representatives, which highlights the IAC’s biggest challenge over the years- a lack of time and resources committed to the intergovernmental treaty by its signatories.

A 2000 study published in Nature documented the precipitous decline of the East Pacific leatherback sea turtle- populations, which dropped by more than 90 percent in the previous two decades the study covered.

Since it came into force in 2001, this regional agreement has adopted a series of resolutions to increase protection for sea turtles in the region. However the IAC has lacked clear guidelines for determining whether or not these measures are being implemented effectively or at all, and the East Pacific leatherback is still on the edge of extinction. In Bonaire, the member countries adopted new and more efficient reporting procedures as well as indicators for determining compliance.

HSI urges the IAC member countries to work closely with and exchange data and information with animal protection organizations in an open and transparent manner to expeditiously meet the objective of the Convention to protect and conserve sea turtles in the waters of the Americas.

Timeline:

  • 2002 – Inaugural meeting of the IAC held at San Jose, Costa Rica.
  • 2004 – The IAC adopts a resolution urging member countries to take measures to reverse the decline of leatherback sea turtles in the Eastern Pacific.
  • 2005 – More than 1,000 scientists from 97 countries call for a ban on longline fishing in the Pacific.
  • 2008 – The IUCN World Conservation Congress calls on countries to adopt and implement measures to protect leatherback sea turtles in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.
  • 2011 – The International Sea Turtle Society calls on member countries of the IAC and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission to enforce measures to protect leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific.

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Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org.