This week international conservation groups are calling on nations meeting in the Galapagos to ensure the protection of sea turtle beaches and monitors in the wake of the killing and kidnapping of a Costa Rican conservation worker and four international volunteers last month. Read more here.
The Sixth Conference of Parties to the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles is meeting June 26-28, 2013, in Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador.
The statement below will be presented by NGO observers at the IAC meeting. The hope is that the IAC member nations will adopt a similar statement.
The NGO statement and the letter to the Secretariat of the IAC that was submitted before the COP can be downloaded in PDF format here:
NGO Statement to Sixth COP, IAC, June 26 - 28, 2013
Letter to IAC Secretariat from NGOs, June 21, 2013
NGO Statement at the Sixth COP, IAC, June 26 - 28, 2013
Submitted by: Humane Society International, Turtle Island Restoration
Network, Center for Biological Diversity, Pretoma, and the Wider
Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST)
On Thursday, May 30, criminals kidnapped 26-year-old Jairo Mora Sandoval, a Costa Rican conservationist. The next morning, his body was found on Moín Beach (near Limón) where he had worked for many years to protect endangered leatherback sea turtles. Four women, three Americans and a Spaniard, were also kidnapped and robbed, but survived and returned home.
We, in coalition with other international conservation and travel organizations, have offered a large reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for these shocking crimes. We urge the Costa Rican government to respond with swift law enforcement action that sends a clear message to all sea turtle poachers and other criminals on nesting beaches that their actions will not be tolerated. The brutal murder of Jairo Mora Sandoval and the kidnapping of international volunteers has traumatized the conservation community and threatens the future of sea turtle research, conservation and ecotourism in Costa Rica.
The conservation community is urging the Costa Rican government to immediately respond to the murder and kidnappings by committing additional police protection to the beaches where there have been threats and poaching to make these areas safe for sea turtles, conservationists, ecotourists, and other national and international visitors. To ensure transparency and reassure the tourist community, we look to the Costa Rican government for strong leadership in an investigation that ensures that Jairo's killers are swiftly brought to justice.
In response to international outcry, including letters from prominent individuals and organizations around the world, the Costa Rican government recently announced that it would designate Moín Beach as a wildlife refuge, build a monument to Jairo and promised to increase security with specialized units. We applaud these important actions.
We know there have been concerns about the safety of sea turtle beach monitors in many nations that are Party to the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC) and this incident – and especially as long as it is unresolved – heightens those concerns.
Without the assurance of safety of conservationists on beach patrols that monitor nesting females and their nests; sea turtle workers and volunteers are at risk of intimidation and aggression by poachers, drug runners and other criminals that access remote areas. Without sea turtle workers and volunteers patrolling the beaches, sea turtles and their eggs are highly vulnerable to poaching and other threats by human activities, all in contravention to this important treaty.
The conservation community respectfully requests all Parties to the IAC to take measures to keep sea turtle beach workers and volunteers safe from poachers and other criminal elements. Nations should commit police protection to the most vulnerable areas and revisit all sea turtle monitoring programs to ensure that safety and security plans are up-to-date and implemented — and to develop such plans if they do not currently exist.