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Governments call for regional Hawksbill Turtle conservation plan
Geneva, 22 May 2001 - Diplomats and experts meeting in Mexico City have agreed on the need for a hawksbill turtle conservation strategy and management plan for the Caribbean region.
The issue of whether or not hawksbill turtle populations in the Caribbean are healthy enough to permit controlled harvesting and trade has generated extensive discussion amongst the member States of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) over the past few years. While all international trade in hawksbill is currently banned, some governments would like strictly regulated harvesting and trade to be permitted.
The first Caribbean Region Hawksbill Turtle Dialogue meeting, held from 15-17 May, was convened in an effort to promote dialogue and co-operation in the region on this issue. Thirty-four governments attended the meeting.
The participants agreed on the need to identify gaps in knowledge, standardize protocols for monitoring turtle population trends and status, and improve the monitoring of harvesting and trade activities (including legal and illegal, domestic and international) and their impacts on hawksbill populations.
In addition, the various national and other hawksbill turtle management programmes and policies in the region should be reviewed to assess their impact on the recovery of hawksbill turtle populations.
Other issues discussed at the Dialogue meeting included the conservation status of the hawksbill turtle, the biological aspects of hawksbill populations, the status of trade in hawksbill turtle products, multilateral agreements for conservation of hawksbill turtle and the role of ranching and captive breeding. Countries reported on national legislation, recovery plans, conservation programmes, problems encountered and the results of their scientific research.
The delegates agreed that further Dialogue meetings should be held, and the Government of the United Kingdom offered to host the next meeting in April or May 2002 in one of its territories in the region.
Note to journalists: For more information, please contact Michael Williams at +41-22-917-8242, +41-79-4091528 (cell), or michael.williams [at] unep.ch. See also www.cites.org.