Tri-national commitment to leatherback turtle conservation in the Pacific

Posted on 29 August 2006
Indonesia has pledged to protect a top leatherback turtle nesting site.
© WWF / Roger Leguen
Bali, Indonesia — Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands have agreed to protect the endangered leatherback turtle in the Pacific through joint conservation activities.

The tri-national partnership, supported by WWF, will allow the three countries to enhance conservation of leatherback turtles through information sharing, data exchange and cooperative research. It also plans to establish a network of marine protected areas covering critical leatherback habitats throughout parts of the western Pacific Ocean.

“The three governments have showed their commitment to improving the livelihood of their people through sustainable development and conservation,” said Michael Avosa, WWF's Country Programme Manager in Papua New Guinea, at the tri-national MOU signing event.

Although protected under various national laws and international treaties, population trends of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) show alarming rates of decline due to domestic and commercial exploitation of eggs, development and destruction of nesting beaches, accidental capture and drowning in fisheries using long line and purse seining methods, ocean pollution and ingestion of plastic and other garbage.

“We strongly support this partnership for shared responsibility to protect such a migratory species," said WWF-Indonesia Executive Director Mubariq Ahmad.

"Sharing responsibility regionally and internationally will safeguard critical feeding areas, reproduction and nesting habitats. We hope it will also lead to improved fisheries management to reduce by-catch of these magnificent animals.”

• The tri-national leatherback conservation partnership was signed by: HE Mr Christopher Siao Mero, Papua New Guinea Ambassador to Indonesia; Hon Mr Job Dudley Tausinga, Solomon Islands Minister of Forest, Environment and Conservation; and Hon Mr HMS Kaban, Indonesian Forestry Minister.

• Stretching from the Vogelkop (Doberai) Peninsula of Papua, Indonesia, across the Admiralty and Bismarck archipelagos of Papua New Guinea to Makira Island of the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Solomon Seas Ecoregion covers approximately 2 million km2 of Pacific Ocean, and is home to approximately 3 million people of which 80 per cent rely on coastal resources for their livelihoods. It is also home to numerous marine species, including the leatherback turtle, as well as hawksbill, green, olive ridley and loggerhead sea turtles, and Blainville's beaked whales, dugongs, giant clams and finless porpoises.
Indonesia has pledged to protect a top leatherback turtle nesting site.
© WWF / Roger Leguen Enlarge