Shrimp are one of the main sources of foreign income to Mozambique and although Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) are now required in Trawlers, there is little to no policing of smaller artisanal fisheries and their bycatch. On a larger perspective, industrial actors – such as domestic trawlers or illegal vessels from Europe and Asia, also pose a threat to the Marine turtles in the region. These vessels are difficult to monitor and noncompliance to TEDS are widespread. Coupled with the issue of marine turtles being bycatch for many industrial and artisanal fisheries, poaching by local communities in coastal areas where these turtles hatch remain an existing problem. In 2011/2012 nesting season, 1122 nests were reported throughout the monitored areas of the country. On some of these stretches of coastline up to 50% of all nests laid were poached.
The primary objectives of this project are; to increase awareness, and education of marine conservation issues using turtles as a flagship species; and facilitate a better enforcement and reporting system for turtles being caught as bycatch, as well illegal turtle poaching infringements and nest excavations.
Eyes on the Horizon plans to expand an existing network of reporters which encompasses local communities, lodges, and dive groups. This network will report and patrol their own portion of the coastline thus gaining more ownership of their local biodiversity. Reporters will also be informed about the conservation issues surrounding other threatened species such as sharks, rays, and cetaceans and will be encouraged to report incidences surrounding these species also. This will be accomplished by conducting talks and workshops, which plans both educate and encourage a sense of ownership and engagement from all coastal residents. At the selected locations along the coast, one initial lecture will be held, and a few carefully chosen individuals will be selected as leaders in their communities. These individuals will be trained in alerting EOTH, and subsequently researchers, about turtle bycatch, any nests laid, poached or washed away, as well as how to conceal nests from poachers. Nearby lodges will be similarly educated with lectures on how to support the communities, how to report to EOTH and to create a reporting network covering a few kilometers of the 2,470 km remote coastline. Followup talks, with feedback will be conducted in season to simultaneously correspond to nest excavations with local turtle experts.
Reports collating all information collected from reporters will be passed on to relevant government agencies and and local law enforcement. Collaboration will be established with other researchers and NGO’s working with marine turtles in the area and data will be combined to estimate incidences of turtle poaching/bycatch in the area and establish better conservation management of marine turtles and more baseline data. Updates of the successes and findings of the project will be communicated to the network of reporters through monthly newsletters and follow up talks. Findings will be posted in our local journal “Marine Conservation in Mozambique”.
Time: October 2014 - April 2015
Location: Ponto D'ouro to Vilankulos