The Eastern Pacific Leatherback Conservation Network began in 2012 when more than thirty researchers, NGOs, and experts from the region came together to develop an action plan to stabilize and recover the East Pacific leatherback population within ten years. Today, the Network includes over sixty members. We meet regularly to collaborate and share information, best practices, results of our research, and conservation strategies.
History and Mission of the Eastern Pacific Leatherback Conservation Network
Conservation of leatherback turtles in the Eastern Pacific has been carried out for more than 25 years, when conservation and monitoring projects were initiated on nesting beaches, mainly in Mexico and Costa Rica. Since then, the number of projects, organizations, and individuals has grown tremendously. Today, there are hundreds of people working in the research and/or conservation of leatherback turtles in all countries of the Americas, from the United States in the north, to Chile in the south. The scientific knowledge that researchers and organizations have been able to obtain about the biology of leatherback turtles in the East Pacific seems to be among the largest that exists for any other sea turtle population in the world. Research topics include: Movements and migrations; Natural behavior in the water and during the nesting process; Reproduction and the factors that affect it; Conditions in nests that influence the development of embryos and the production of newborns and the key threats, mainly the plundering of eggs and the incidental interaction with fisheries. This knowledge has supported the development and implementation of numerous conservation and management projects in many sites throughout the region.
However, despite the great conservation and research effort at local, national, and regional levels, the leatherback population in the East Pacific has continued to decline. Therefore, a new effort was initiated to coordinate and integrate the people and projects of the region – now formally named The Eastern Pacific Leatherback Conservation Network – to focus efforts to achieve population recovery. The Network intends to be a technical network, and its main goal is to strengthen the support, coordination, and collaboration of efforts towards the conservation of leatherback turtles at the regional level.
Currently, the Network is made up of individuals and organizations that work with the leatherback turtle as well as other species of sea turtles in the region from the United States to Chile. The collaborators develop valuable conservation projects, an important collection of scientific literature, and have consolidated the leatherback turtles as priorities in the agenda of marine conservation in the East Pacific.
Objectives and Activities of the Eastern Pacific Leatherback Conservation Network
General objective: Establish regional collaboration mechanisms to influence the recovery of leatherback turtles in the Eastern Pacific according to the strategies established in the Regional Action Plan.
- To form, strengthen and foster alliances among partners in the region representing various organizations, experiences, and perspectives to advance research and conservation of leatherback turtles in the region.
- Generate, compile, share, and make accessible up-to-date information on the biology and status of leatherback turtles in the East Pacific to define the lines of action towards which conservation efforts will focus.
- Identify regional and national needs and guide actions for the conservation of leatherback turtles in the East Pacific.
- Advise countries/organizations/individuals on establishing sea turtle monitoring and conservation programs.
- Establish “best practices,” and standardized methodology for the region, based on a technical understanding of the biology of the species by individuals and organizations.
- Train field staff in standardized monitoring and conservation techniques.
- To urge governments to create and implement mechanisms (laws, conventions, agreements) for the conservation of leatherback turtles in the East Pacific, within the framework of the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles international conventions.
- Based on the best available scientific information, provide specific recommendations to the governments of the countries in the East Pacific for the management and recovery of leatherback turtles.
- Cultivate public awareness of the situation of the leatherback turtle of the East Pacific (e.g. Campaigns, public exhibitions, posters and leaflets, presentations, events in mass media).
- To seek financing for priority projects in the region to be developed by some or some of the members of the Eastern Pacific Leatherback Conservation Network.
Criteria for Members
Members can be individuals and/or organizations, but in both cases there are certain criteria that members must meet:
- Be recognized within your work environment, so the new member must be recommended by a member of the Eastern Pacific Leatherback Conservation Network.
- To be working or having a background in the work of conservation of leatherback turtles in the East Pacific, or an individual working directly with leatherbacks, or organization or institution of the Governments of the region, whose actions in any way affect or may contribute to the species.
- Commit to providing information on leatherback turtles, either on leatherback research, or on conservation efforts being undertaken.
- Having reliable access to an email account to ensure efficient communication between members of thethe Eastern Pacific Leatherback Conservation Network.
- To promote the activities of the Eastern Pacific Leatherback Conservation Network and its objectives in one’s region of work, as well as to international entities and bodies.
- Be respectful and comply with the agreements and norms established within the Eastern Pacific Leatherback Conservation Network.