LALITH EKANAYAKE1 & ANDREA D. PHILLOTT2
1Turtle Conservation Project, Sri Lanka#
2Asian University for Women, Bangladesh
The Indian Ocean South East Asia Regional Meeting was held on 4th February, 2013 in Baltimore, USA, prior to the 33rd International Sea Turtle Symposium. The meeting was chaired by Lalith Ekanyake and Andrea Phillott, and attended by more than 25 participants from 15 countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, China, France, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States. After a brief introduction about the meeting and its history, nine participants presented a brief summary of activities within the region.
Teri Shore discussed the major liquid natural gas (LNG) projects under development in Australia with significant actual or potential ramifications for marine turtles. Jeff Miller discussed a nearly completed review which will provide direction for future IOSEA technical support and capacity-building activities. Nick Pilcher described progress on the Gulf Satellite Tracking Project, a multi-year hawksbill satellite tracking project in the Gulf. Alan Rees, who has recently assumed the role of regional MTSG Vice-Chair for the Middle East, described his goals to develop better networking within the Middle East region and with ISTS and IOSEA. Creusa Hitipeuw presented a brief on leatherback turtle conservation in Indonesia, including campaigns to change community members’ consumptive behaviour.
Mariana Fuentes reported on climate change research investigating the adaptive capacity of sea turtles, potential geographical shifts, and factors influencing resilience. Although previous work on climate change impacts mainly focused on green turtles, other species (e.g. loggerhead and flatback turtles in Western Australia) are also being studied. Shwetal Shah explained the work of the Prakruti Nature Club in Gujarat, India, in wildlife conservation.
Andrea Phillott explained the mission of IOTN and requested the participants contribute to future issues. She also drew attention to her ongoing study documenting turtle hatcheries in the Indian Ocean. Douglas Hykle reported on developments under the IOSEA Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding over the past year, notably the ongoing work related to the IOSEA Site Network, workshops and training activities, and further development of useful tools on the IOSEA website.
General topics, suggested by the participants prior to the meeting, were also discussed, including the ongoing illegal take of sea turtles by Chinese fishers in south-east Asian waters, and a new, concerning trend for turtles to be collected by local collaborators then sold to Chinese buyers. Triet M. Truong initiated a discussion on his proposed study of sea turtle epibionts and fibropapillomas in the region. Truong requested samples of marine leeches, collected from marine turtles, for his worldwide study. Other topics of discussion included unregulated hatchery operations in the region, continued poaching of marine turtles, and the conflict between tourism and conservation.
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