Assessment of fisheries statistics confirms that fishing is important to the sustained livelihoods of several persons within coastal communities. Thus, the intention is not to recommend halting of fishing to reduce the bycatch. It is however clear that changes are needed in fishing technology and practices, if marine turtle populations are to be conserved in the Guianas. WWF Guianas continues to collect data on bycatch on Suriname fisheries and holds dialogue with fishermen to collaborate in the identification of solutions to the unintentional capture and drowning of marine turtles in fish nets.
Marine Turtle Conservation
Four of the seven Marine Turtle species nest on the beaches of the Guianas. These special creatures have been crawling the earth for more than a hundred million years, but now all species of marine turtles are of conservation concern globally. Several populations worldwide continue to decline as a result of human-based threats. The relatively undisturbed beaches of the Guianas which hosts hundreds of nesting turtles annually, are therefore of immense importance to the survival of these species. However, even in the Guianas the Marine Turtles are facing more and more severe threats.
Some of the most severe threats within the Guianas for Marine turtles are: Loss of adults because of unvoluntary bycatch in fishing gear and subsequent drowning; and illegal harvesting of eggs on nesting beaches. These are the issues that WWF Guianas seeks to address in its efforts to conserve Marine Turtles. WWF Guianas is the only NGO in the Guianas that works at a regional level to conserve Marine Turtles.
Marine Turtle bycatch in the Guianas
WWF Guianas is concerned about the tremendously high rate of marine turtle bycatch in the Suriname fisheries and is seeking to support fishermen and the Department of Fisheries in Suriname to identify workable solutions to this crisis. WWF has thus engaged in research to test adaptations in fish gear and practices in order to find possible solutions.
Turtles in all stages of their existence – from eggs to young turtles- are a wanted part of the food chain. Jaguars, birds and fish are all eagerly anticipating their breeding season. Even without humans involved one in a thousand eggs will eventually reach maturity to the stage they can reproduce. With odds like these, it is especially important to eradicate mortality rates based on human intervention.
Especially in Suriname, egg poaching is a severe problem for turtle conservation. WWF Guianas is forced to spend significant funds on law enforcement in order to control poaching. WWF Guianas continues to appeal to Surinamese to halt the practice of egg consumption. Every consumer of turtle eggs is contributing to the destruction of marine turtle populations.