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Sea turtle conservation project to launch

Update: December, 29/2017 - 08:00
Concrete dykes and rapid urbanisation in Lý Sơn Island prevent the return of sea turtles for egg laying on warm and quiet beaches. — VNS Photo Công Thành
Viet Nam News

LÝ SƠN ISLAND — The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) plans to launch a communication campaign to promote the non-use of plastic bags as a prelude to its sea turtle conservation programme on Lý Sơn Island in 2018.

IUCN’s Marine and Coastal resource programme co-ordinator Bùi Thị Thu Hiền told Việt Nam News that the communication campaign aims to raise awareness among islanders and tourists of the need to create clean and safe marine areas for sea turtles returning to the island in the near future.

Hiền said on Tuesday other activities related to marine environment cleaning and protection would be launched beginning next year to boost sea turtle conservation in the area where turtles had laid their eggs in the past decades.

According to IUCN’s research, the sea turtle population in central coastal areas has seriously declined in recent years.

Quảng Ngãi beaches, including areas in Bình Sơn District on Lý Sơn Island, witnessed 200 sea turtles regularly approaching the beaches to lay their eggs in 1980s.

However, the figure dropped by 90 per cent between 1980 and 2000 due to rapid urbanisation, over-fishing and the construction of buildings and concrete dykes.

Untouched An Bình Islet, off Lý Sơn Island in Quảng Ngãi Province, is an ideal site for sea turtle conservation. — VNS Photo Công Thành

According to IUCN Việt Nam, only eight out of 16 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Việt Nam offer sea turtle conservation.

Hiền said MPA in Lý Sơn Island still struggles with a lack of investment and human resources for sea turtle conservation.

Beaches in Quảng Ngãi were home to species including green turtles (Chelonia mydas), hawkbills (Eretmochelis imbricate) and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea).

According to Lê Xuân Ái, a sea turtle conservationist, beaches in Quảng Ngãi, Quảng Nam, Bình Định, Phú Yên and Bình Thuận provinces were favourite sites for sea turtles to lay their eggs.

Ái succeeded last year in releasing nearly 900 baby turtles into the sea in a pilot programme for ex-situ sea turtle conservation in the Chàm Islands, off the coast of Quảng Nam Province.

Sea turtle eggs, which had been laid 40 days earlier on Côn Đảo Island, were brought to hatch in sand nests on the Chàm Islands’ beaches before the baby sea turtles made their way into the sea.

Last year, IUCN, in co-operation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, started a marine environment protection communications programme for sea turtle conservation on An Bình Islet, three miles off Lý Sơn Island.

Paintings of ocean life and species were created on the walls of households in An Bình Islet, calling on local islanders and tourists to join hands to protect the marine environment and sea turtles. — VNS