Sunday, November 11, 2007

South Africa Signs MoU

Go to Documents contents   South Africa Signs MoU on Conservation of Marine Turtles

06 November 2007

Media Statement

Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

TUESDAY, 06 NOVEMBER 2007: Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism of South Africa, today signed the Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation Measures for Marine Turtles of the Atlantic Coast of Africa in the presence of Mr Douglas Hykle, senior advisor to the Convention on Migratory Species.

The objective of the MoU is to protect, conserve, replenish and recover marine turtles and their habitats in the Atlantic Ocean.

South Africa has joined 22 West African countries that are committed to the conservation of marine turtles. Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire,  Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo are the current signatories.  This means that all 23 African Range States are now on board.

Marine turtles are thought to be numerous along much of the Atlantic coast of Africa, extending some 14 000km from Morocco to South Africa including nesting sites, feeding areas, and migration corridors of importance for six species including the loggerhead turtle, the olive ridley turtle, the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle and the leatherback turtle.

The MOU aims to heighten conservation efforts of the populations of marine turtles frequenting the territorial waters and beaches of the Atlantic coast of Africa, from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Cape of Good Hope, including Macronesia which are seriously threatened.

Five of the world's seven marine turtle species occur in the Atlantic ocean and form an important part of the biodiversity of the coastal and marine ecosystems. Sea turtles are valued as socio-cultural assets as well as economic and food sources especially for poor coastal communities. Due to the highly migratory nature of sea turtles living in many different countries through out their lives and continued unsustainable use, sea turtles are now considered endangered or critically endangered in many parts of their range. The major threats to turtles are due to harvesting of turtles or eggs, habitat destruction, development and pollution, and incidental capture in fisheries activities. The Atlantic coast off Southern Africa is particularly known for the large industrial fishing with apparent devastating effects to sea turtle populations.

The MOU acknowledges that if these human-induced threats are not properly mitigated and managed, that it could lead to a further decline in marine turtle population numbers.

To view the MOU  go to www.deat.gov.za

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