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The Pan Pacific Initiative

Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) and loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) best illustrate some of the challenges facing efforts to conserve marine turtles - and are excellent ambassadors for addressing the challenges to marine conservation across the Pacific Ocean basin.
With the Pacific Ocean now home to fewer than an estimated 2,300 adult leatherback females and fewer than 2,000 nesting loggerhead females, both populations are on the verge of certain extinction if current levels of mortality continue.

Desperate measures to save leatherbacks & loggerheads
Leatherback turtles spend most of their lives roaming the open seas, coming close to shore only to nest. With their migrations crossing entire ocean basins, both leatherback and loggerhead turtles are at risk of being caught in the lines of hooks strewn throughout the Pacific Ocean by long-line fishing fleets. Together with threats of egg collection, beach erosion, coastal trawl nets and seagrass and coral reef destruction, this all adds up to pressures from which these populations cannot escape.

Pacific leatherback and loggerhead turtles need urgent conservation and management help at every stage of their life-cycles, and in every critical habitat- stretching across the Pacific Ocean, and covering both national and international waters.

WWF is developing a Pan-Pacific Initiative that will scale-up its existing work, forge new partnerships and build comprehensive conservation solutions to protect these species across the Pacific.

These actions include:
  • Promoting and assisting implementation of bycatch reduction mechanisms across the Pacific;

  • Protecting nesting beaches and critical nearshore marine habitats;

  • Implementing community-based conservation and monitoring programmes, including alternatives to over-harvesting of eggs;

  • Using science to develop better management models; and

  • Enhancing the effectiveness of regional and global conservation and fisheries policy.


Pacific populations of leatherback and loggerheads are feared to be on the verge of certain extinction if current levels of mortality continue.

Leatherback turtle (<i>Dermochelys coriacea</i>) caught in a net. After days of ... 
© WWF / Michel GUNTHER
Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) caught in a net. After days of struggle, it finally drowned after resurfacing a few times.
© WWF / Michel GUNTHER