The Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC) celebrates its 10th anniversary with a special meeting of member parties in Bonaire, Netherlands.
This year's meeting of the IAC will give special attention to the problem of bycatch through a memorandum of understanding to be signed between the IAC and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. The purpose of the agreement is for both organizations to share information on the problem of unintended catch of marine turtles and to seek mitigating solutions.
"This is an important step for sea turtle conservation because incidental fishing is one of the biggest threats these endangered species face today. We hope to see this agreement transformed into a scaled-up investment in the prevention of marine turtle bycatch by member parties of both Inter-American institutions," says Carlos Drews, Director of WWF's Global Species Programme.
Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species inhabit oceanic waters of the American continents, both on their Pacific and Atlantic sides. All six are considered endangered or critically endangered by IUCN. The threats facing these animals range from direct and incidental fishing, habitat loss on nesting beaches, hunting and poaching, to pollution and climate change.
Additional topics on the agenda for the IAC conference include a briefing on the state of marine turtles today, a report from the scientific and consultative committee, a presentation on incidental fishing, a summary by the secretariat of the work done over the past ten years, and the approval of the work plan of the convention for the next two years.
"It is important for all coastal countries of America to participate in the IAC and to agree on measures of protection for sea turtles species across the continent, since these migratory species live throughout our shared waters," says Veronica Caceres, Secretary of the Convention.
Current members of the IAC are: Mexico, United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, Netherlands, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador and the recently added Chile and Argentina.