Additionally, without these networks spanning migratory routes, the marine turtle conservation efforts of one country may be in vain, since the turtles are unprotected in other countries during different stages of their lifecycles.
For example, nesting and inter-nesting habitats may be well protected in one country, but turtles may spend the majority of their lives in foraging areas in other countries. These areas may not be well protected or managed, and the turtles may face numerous threats in these waters. Protected area network
establishment and management must go beyond the national level, to the regional cross-border level.
Comprehensive protected area networks needed
These habitats that turtles need include: nesting beaches; foraging and developmental areas such as coral reefs
and sea-grass meadows; and migratory pathways. A network of sites that protects marine turtles will automatically protect a suite of ecosystems and a vast array of other marine species, many of them ones upon which coastal people depend for subsistence or local fisheries.
WWF is working within priority ecoregions (e.g. Sulu Sulawesi Seas
, Bismarck Solomon Seas
, Fiji Island Marine
, Great Barrier Reef
) and marine turtle critical habitats (e.g. Arafura and Timor Seas), to:
- Facilitate inter-governmental cooperation for cross-border protected areas;
- Increase the coverage of marine protected areas (MPAs);
- Improve the management of existing and new MPAs; and
- Create networks of protection for marine turtles across Asia Pacific.
Networks of marine protected areas are also critical to securing and sustainably managing the resources that the economies of many countries throughout the region depend upon.