By Gladys Martínez
Significant strides were taken last week toward the conservation of loggerhead sea turtles. A new international resolution intends to strengthen protections for this endangered species in the Americas, and outlines the primary threats facing loggerheads, including mining, all of which should be regulated to avoid harm.
The resolution was approved during the 7th Conference of Parties to the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (CIT), hosted last week in Mexico City. One of just seven species of sea turtle in the world, the loggerhead turtle is threatened by human activities such as unsustainable fishing, poorly planned development and extractive industries.
AIDA was an actor and an observer in the conference, representing other organizations and individuals from civil society. My colleagues and I spoke with delegates and raised awareness of the harm that marine phosphate mining could cause to loggerheads, and to the ecosystem as a whole.
We drew attention to the potential impacts of the Don Diego mining project in Bahia de Ulloa, Baja California Sur. The region’s first marine phosphate mine would, if executed, gravely impact populations of loggerhead turtles and other species that live in or migrate through Baja waters.
I am pleased to report that I successfully advocated for the resolution to include mining on the list of threats to loggerheads.
We also used our knowledge of international environmental law to help strengthen proposals within the resolution, and to make member States aware that immediate action is required for the conservation of the species.
In the resolution, member States recognize that threats to the loggerhead turtle include development, coastal and deep-water fishing, marine debris, mining, pollution and climate change. The nations promise to work together to implement existing recovery plans for loggerhead populations, as well as to develop new plans in countries that still have not created them.
They made the following commitments:
Overall, I am quite satisfied with the advances achieved at this conference. I consider it a privilege to participate, and an honor to effectively contribute our knowledge and experience to conventions such as this, where decisions are made at an international level, and then taken back and implemented in each participating country.
Another result of the Conference is the increased protection of the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) of the Western Pacific. Member States approved a resolution in which they committed to:
We trust that the States will transform these international commitments into effective actions for the conservation of sea turtles. At AIDA, we will remain vigilant to ensure these promises become reality.