Hawksbill sea turtles: can phylogenetics inform harvesting?
Posted on 19 May 2009
Clearly, the situation regarding harvesting and its impacts on regional nesting populations is more complex than presented in Mortimer et al. (2007) and Bowen et al. (2007).
In their recent articles, Mortimer et al. (2007) and Bowen et al. (2007) imply that historical declines in hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) populations in the Caribbean together with new phylogenetic data provide solid evidence that hawksbills cannot be harvested on a sustainable level.
We suggest that broad inferences on the impacts of harvesting based on phylogenetic data alone are insufficient as an argument against sustainable use of sea turtles.
Rather, we recommend that the merits of harvesting schemes should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, which should enable beneficial and sustainable projects to proceed and also discourage unsustainable ones.