Eastern Pacific leatherback network growing regionally by extending efforts to evaluate bycatch in Mexico, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica

In June 2016, the Eastern Pacific leatherback network – or la Red para la Laúd del Océano Pacifico Oriental “LaúdOPO” in Spanish – convened a 3-day workshop in Mexico City to continue strengthening regional conservation efforts. The workshop, hosted by the Comisión de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP) and attended by 20 participants from Chile, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, and the USA, facilitated sharing of experiences and information among partners from different parts of the region.

The workshop occurred during the 50th anniversary of sea turtle conservation in Mexico, which provided a clear reminder not only of Mexico’s role as a regional and global leader in sea turtle conservation, but also of the importance of continuing efforts in Mexico and elsewhere to ensure sea turtles and human communities can co-exist in the future.

In particular, colleagues from ProDelphinus, based in Peru, trained colleagues from Mexico, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica in rapid bycatch assessment methodology, which allows researchers to obtain large amounts of baseline data about small-scale fisheries and bycatch – or incidental capture of species other than what fishermen intend to catch – over large areas in relatively short time. Although LaúdOPO partners in Peru and Chile have been assessing and trying to reduce leatherback bycatch for many years, little is known about possible areas of high bycatch risk in Mexico and Central America. To fill this gap, these rapid bycatch assessments will be carried out over the next year in the countries that host nearly all leatherback nesting in the region – Mexico, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

Workshop participants also shared updates from fieldwork on leatherback nesting beaches as well as in foraging areas, discussed population assessment approaches to identify regional targets for conservation, and drafted recommendations to advance conservation in high-priority sites, to integrate LaúdOPO’s research and conservation efforts within other regional initiatives, and to strengthen the LaúdOPO network itself.

We will continue to provide updates as work progresses on the bycatch assessments. We are also planning future workshops to strengthen sharing of information and monitoring methods on nesting beach conservation practices.

Read a more detailed synopsis of the gathering here.

Some photos:

La Red de Conservación de la Tortuga Laúd del Pacífico Oriental comenzó en 2012 cuando más de treinta investigadores, ONGS y expertos de la región se reunieron para desarrollar un plan de acción para estabilizar y recuperar la población de tortugas laúd en el este del Pacífico.