MedPAN, established a Mediterranean MPAs Marine Turtle Working Group (MPATWG) bringing together MPA managers and involving NGOs and researchers working on marine turtles conservation from 10 Mediterranean countries.

The Marine Turtle Working Group enables exchanges to tackle site-specific issues and allow a real-time exchange of information and thus, the possibility to take adaptive management decisions at MPA level. At network level, this group also supports an integrated management strategy for these species.

The MPATWG is developing a Cooperation Framework for monitoring marine turtles, which includes a Data Sharing Charter. It intends to consolidate trust and to set the rules whereby data can be shared and borders issues overcome. A Guide is also being developed to pull together protocols for monitoring marine turtles for management purposes, including adaptive management principles implementation. The MPATWG will also explore a potential database to store the data collected. To support this effort, MedPAN organises regular exchange visits in the field for MPAs, providing the opportunity for the MPATWG to meet. The group met twice already:

  • In Zakynthos in May 2017
  • In Torre Guaceto in June 2018

Maintaining a continuous and active MPAs Marine Turtle Working group, within the MedPAN network, can have a key role in advancing integrated marine turtle conservation and protection in the Mediterranean, through strong commitment and long-term cooperation among MPA managers, NGOs and researchers working towards this common goal.

The challenge

Marine Turtles in the Mediterranean have received increasing scientific attention over the past 30 years. Data collected by different entities across the basin has been conducive to better understanding turtle movements, parts of their life cycle, and nesting habits for two species in particular: Caretta caretta (Loggerhead turtle) and Chelonia mydas (green turtle). Efficient conservation of migrating marine species such as the loggerhead sea turtle is highly complicated since numerous anthropogenic threats must be addressed over a very large geographical area.

Global protection of such species throughout their full life and seasonal cycles is therefore difficult as just one successful protection measure in a given area doesn’t mean there is an efficient protection throughout the whole life cycle (see Sourbès L. et. al., 2011 and 2015 in the 4th and 5th Mediterranean Conference on marine turtles). MPAs managers in the Mediterranean can adopt measures that help decrease pressures on nesting beaches and sometimes in waters around and by collaborating,  spanning a given geographical area, they can be increasingly effective at curbing pressures and impacts in mating, migrating, foraging and wintering areas. However, in order to set the right conservation measures, it is essential for MPA managers to have access to the data being collected by different entities, and to analyse it on time, together with scientists, in order to deliver a comprehensive conservation strategy across the above mentioned geographical area. It is also important that this data, pivotal in management decisions, is centralised and readily accessible to those who need it for the protection of marine turtles and adaptive action in the field. A number of databases present scientific data on marine turtles, yet are often fitful and far from taking all into account.