Sea turtle species, once abundant in tropical and temperate oceans, are now vulnerable to extinction as a result of decades of intense exploitation, habitat alteration, marine pollution and bycatch in fisheries.
NFWF's Sea Turtle Conservation Initiative is a 10-year strategy to guide conservation investments that will measurably improve the current recovery trajectory of seven sea turtle populations in the Western Hemisphere: leatherbacks, Kemp’s ridleys, loggerheads, and hawksbills in the Northwest Atlantic and leatherbacks, loggerheads and hawksbills in the Eastern Pacific.
Key conservation strategies for this program include:
- Reduce incidental capture in fishing gear - support incentive-based approaches for the development and implementation of turtle-friendly fishing gear;
- Reduce direct exploitation of adult turtles - create incentives to reduce or eliminate poaching, hunting and directed fishing of sea turtles; and
- Reduce or eliminate direct exploitation of sea turtle eggs - support increased nest protection through law enforcement, development of alternative livelihoods for poachers, reduction of feral dogs and other nest predators and improve outreach and education to local communities.
By reducing harmful coastal lights, preventing poaching, and controlling predation, NFWF projects have increased the productivity of over 100 miles of priority nesting beaches, allowing hundreds of thousands of new hatchlings to make it to the sea. NFWF in-water efforts to implement safer fishing gear practices reduced sea turtle bycatch by 50 to100% in Canada, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad, and the United States, saving thousands of turtles annually. NFWF has also supported global priority setting, methods standardization and bycatch assessments to increase the efficiency of investments in sea turtle conservation world-wide.