Marine turtle conservation in Indonesia

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Indonesia

Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Indo-Pacific Ocean.
© WWF-Canon / Jürgen FREUND

Summary

Indonesia is a home to 6 out of 7 of the world's marine turtle species, providing important nesting and foraging grounds as well as important migration routes at the cross roads of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The species, however, are threatened by habitat and nesting site destruction, illegal trade and accidental capture in fishing nets.

WWF is working to conserve critical habitats of marine turtles and reduce exploitation. This includes encouraging the government to increase political commitment to turtle conservation and pledging to establish new marine protected areas at critical habitat sites.

Background

Indonesia is one of the world’s most important countries for marine turtles, particularly for the Leatherback turtles and for the large remaining rookeries of Green turtles.

WWF has consistently played a significant role in all major marine turtle policy decisions, fisheries and trade interventions, research and site interventions in Indonesia. It is often the ‘behind the scenes’ presence drafting acceptance letters, speeches, and even representing the Indonesian Government on turtle issues at international meetings.

WWF co-sponsored the first review of turtles nationally (Schultz 1984). This formed the basis of the national conservation plan for marine turtles which is still used as the benchmark for assessing population change. WWF also co-hosted and facilitated national workshops to draft the National Turtle Action Plan in 2001, which led to the establishment of the national working group on turtle conservation, and most recently hosted the workshop to formulate a strategy to follow-up on IOSEA (Indian Ocean-South East Asia) membership in 2005.

WWF Indonesia has helped facilitate and implement the major turtle conservation policy and site based achievements, working closely with local agencies, partners, and communities over the past 20 years.

In the last 2 years, WWF’s ecoregional work in the Sulu Sulawesi and Bismarck Solomons seas has mobilised multi-country governmental support for turtle conservation, including pledges for increased designation of sites as components of ecoregional MPA networks. WWF Indonesia has made substantial progress through legal and religious interventions to curb direct harvest of turtle eggs and meat, and there are expressions of interest from fisheries and fishing industries to pilot gear to reduce indirect turtle take.

The Indonesian government has also made substantial progress in increasing political commitment to turtle conservation and in pledging to establish new MPAs at critical habitat sites.

Objectives

By 2008, at least 2 known critical distinctive turtle populations (Leatherback and Green turtles) in Indonesia have stable or growing populations, are freed from over-exploitation and habitats are protected.

General strategy for conserving the Green turtle (East Kalimantan and East Java) and Leatherback turtle (Papua) populations:
a) Protection of critical habitats.
b) Stopping direct take of turtles and eggs.
c) Stopping indirect take in fisheries.
d) Policies in place and implemented to support conservation goals (including building networks of turtle marine protected areas (MPAs) that reach outside Indonesia waters).

Solution

1. Protection of critical habitats using MPAs or equivalent: Indonesia contains regionally and globally important nesting grounds for Green turtles and Leatherback turtles as well foraging and inter-nesting habitats.

2. Reduction of direct take of these species through curbing demand at the main centres of consumption for meat and eggs.

3. Reduction of indirect take of target species of turtle in fisheries (bycatch).

4. Effective implementation of a national turtle action plan.

5. Leveraging ecoregion and pan Pacific conservation action by ecoregion teams, the WWF Network and partners, to ensure protection of the full life-cycle and migration routes, not just the portion lying within Indonesian waters.

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