Turtles overview

Sea turtles are an at risk species that on several occasions IWMC has recommended for listing in CITES’ appendices. For example, in 2000 at CITES’ CoP-11 in Gigiri, Kenya, IWMC supported the listing of the Spotted turtle in appendix II because the sustainability of this species is genuinely at risk, including by international trade. It takes a long time for this species to reach maturity and its eggs and juveniles have a high mortality rate. Though the main threat to the species is habitat degradation and destruction.

At CoP-11, IWMC recommended that the Parties adopt a proposal by Cuba and Dominica to transfer the population of hawksbill turtles inhabiting Cuban waters from Appendix I to Appendix II. However, IWMC argued against calls for African spurred tortoise – Geochelone sulcata – to be transferred from Appendix II to Appendix I, on the grounds that the proposers had not submitted sufficient evidence.

One of the major threats to sea turtles has been the adverse knock-on impact of shrimp harvesting. The mitigation for this risk is the development of specialised fishing techniques that do not threaten sea turtles.

In 2005 the US government gave a positive rating to eight nations and one economy — the Bahamas, China, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Oman, Peru and Sri Lanka – for harvesting shrimp ‘using manual rather than mechanical means to retrieve nets, or use other fishing methods not harmful to sea turtles’. And it reported that sixteen nations have shrimp fisheries only in cold waters, where the risk of taking sea turtles is negligible: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. While Trinidad and Tobago and Cost Rica were at that time uncertified. (See Sea Turtle Conservation and Shrimp Imports.)

Latest news

Key fact about 

IWMC Feature

Conservation Influencers

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.

Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, which claimed that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015, Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.

Read more...