Six of the seven species of sea turtles inhabit the waters of Latin American and the Caribbean:
All these species of marine turtles are threatened with extinction, mainly from climate change, destruction of beaches and feeding grounds at sea, overexploitation of their eggs, meat and shells, as well as mortality in nets and hooks of the region´s fisheries.
Since its founding in 1961, WWF has supported many efforts for sea turtle conservation around the world. The Marine Turtle Regional Action Plan for Latin America and the Caribbean defines the priority themes, directions and actions on which WWF will focus its efforts and includes the recovery of leatherback populations among its priority objectives for the next 10 years.
In this region, WWF concentrates on the conservation of leatherbacks, Caribbean hawksbills and Eastern Pacific green turtles, due to their highly threatened status.
On the ground
There are various marine turtle conservation projects supported by WWF in the region, namely: Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Guianas, Galapagos, Peru and Argentina. These include interventions on national legislation, fisheries best-practices, as well as local community work.
In addition, WWF seeks conservation impact at the level of international treaties (e.g. Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Covention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), Inter-American Convention (IAC) for Marine Turtle Conservation).
A regional effort
Due to their migratory habits, sea turtle conservation is an issue demanding a regional approach. Unilateral efforts by governments cannot completely protect sea turtles, since they cover distances that encompass the jurisdictions of various nations and international waters.
Sea turtle conservation is linked to community development by strengthening non-extractive uses such as tourism. It also advocates for responsible fisheries and the preservation of critical marine habitats. Thus, these reptiles serve as flagship species for addressing broad environmental themes.