Date: 25 July 2023
Author: Nelly de Paz Campos and Elizabeth Gutiérrez Llanos.
Nomination by: ACOREMA (Áreas Costeras y Recursos Marinos [Coastal Areas and Marine Resources]. Ica, Perú).
Mr. Jans Manuel García Rios is a Peruvian fisherman with more than 37 years working from shore and more recently as captain of his own vessel, collaborating with the non-governmental organization ACOREMA since 2008. He began his collaboration with important information about bycatch interactions with leatherbacks (or tingladas as they are known in the region where he lives), and over time he became more involved through regular reports of leatherback bycatch information.
His work over all these years has helped to identify coastal areas in the region of Ica as a ‘hotspot’ for leatherbacks in the eastern Pacific. He has also been an ambassador in his native port of Tambo de Mora, encouraging other willing fishermen to learn and collaborate.
Mr Jans Manuel’s commitment is evident in his daily work as a fisherman. As a vessel captain, he has trained and taught his crew in safe sea turtle handling and release practices and by supporting conservation initiatives like discussion forums and training events in fishing ports in the Ica region.
His spirit has inspired his nephew Jans Stephens to follow in his footsteps, helping to release bycaught leatherbacks since the early age of 12. Allies like Jans and his family, in a region with a long tradition of consumption of turtle meat and oil, are extremely valuable in the effort to recover these endangered marine species.