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A.M. Costa Rica

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 17, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 76
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Sharp decline in Caribbean green turtle catches attributed to over-fishing
By the Wildlife Conservation Society news staff

A 20-year assessment of Nicaragua’s legal, artisanal green sea turtle fishery has uncovered a stark reality: greatly reduced overall catch rates of turtles in what may have become an unsustainable take, according to conservation scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Florida.

During the research period, conservation scientists estimated that more than 170,000 green turtles were killed between 1991 and 2011, with catch rates peaking in 1997 and 2002 and declining steeply after 2008, likely resulting from over-fishing. The trend in catch rates, the authors of the assessment results maintain, indicates the need for take limits on this legal fishery.

The study now appears in the online journal PLOS ONE. The authors are: Cynthia J. Lagueux and Cathi L. Campbell of the University of Florida and formerly of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Samantha Strindberg of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“The significant decrease in the catch rates of green turtles represents a concern for both conservationists and local, coastal communities who depend on this resource,” said Ms. Lagueux, lead author of the study. “We hope this study serves as a foundation for implementing scientifically based limits on future green turtle take.”

Caribbean coastal waters of Nicaragua contain extensive areas of sea grass, principal food source for green turtles, the only herbivorous sea turtle species. Green turtles in turn support a number of indigenous Miskitu and Afro-descendent communities that rely on the marine reptiles for income by selling the meat and as a source of protein.

The catch data used by the researchers to estimate trends was gathered by community members at 14 different sites located in two geographically political regions of the Nicaraguan coast. The research team analyzed the long-term data set to examine catch rates for the entire fishery, each region, and for individual turtle fishing communities.

Over the duration of the assessment, the scientists recorded that at least 155,762 green turtles were caught. The overall estimated catch, factoring in estimated take during periods when data were not recorded, was 171,556 turtles. The average catch rate per fishing trip revealed an overall decline from 6.5 turtles to 2.8 turtles caught, representing a 56 percent decline over two decades.

In individual communities, catch rate declines ranged between 21 percent and 90 percent in green turtles caught over the 20-year period.

“These declining catch rates align with our survival rate estimates of green turtles exposed to the Nicaragua turtle fishery and population modeling, which suggested the fishery was not sustainable at high take levels reported in the 1990s,” said Ms. Campbell.
turtle catches
University of Florida/Cathi L. Campbell
A file photo of a green turtle being unloaded in Río Grande Bar.


The steep declines in green turtle catch rates, the researchers maintain, indicate a potential decline of green turtle populations that use Nicaragua’s foraging grounds, particularly smaller rookeries in the Caribbean. The scientists note that the study results highlight the need for not only close monitoring of rookeries in the region, but also in-water aggregations of green turtles. Further, future research efforts should include the use of molecular technology to better refine Caribbean green turtle genetic stocks, specifically to identify populations most at risk from turtle fisheries.

“Given the importance of green turtles to Nicaragua's past, present and future, we encourage the communities, governmental agencies, and conservation groups to take measures that conserve and sustain these globally threatened populations, and to work together to ensure that the communities have alternative sources of protein and income into the future,” said Caleb McClennen, director of Wildlife Conservation Society’s Marine Program.

Growing up to 400 pounds in weight, the green turtle is the second largest sea turtle species next to the leatherback turtle. The reptile inhabits the tropical and subtropical waters of the world. The species is listed as endangered, a designation which prohibits all international commercial trade by member countries. In addition to the threat from overfishing, the green turtle is at risk from being caught by accident by fishermen seeking other speciess, poaching of eggs at nesting beaches, habitat deterioration and loss due to coastal development and climate change effects and pollution.


Here is a vote in favor of lengthy diplomacy and not bloody war
I have been trying for some time to understand international relations and politics.  Some people don’t want to be bothered, but I find the machinations of heads of states, when it comes to relations with each other, both fascinating and disturbing.  I think I once said that two activities you can count on to be peppered with hypocrisy are sex and war.

Right now, although some civil wars are raging, there are no wars between countries.  I hope it stays that way.  However, the situation in Ukraine is threatening.  I know it is serious, but I can’t help feeling that it is a 21st century remake of the “The Mouse that Roared.”

As you will recall, in that movie the tiny European duchy of Grand Fenwick is facing bankruptcy and decides that one way to recover its finances is to declare war on the United States, be quickly defeated (with Peter Sellers leading their military, how can they fail to fail?) and get lots of money in reparation and reconstruction as was the habit of the U.S. after World War II.  Like the best laid plans, however, things don’t work out that way.

There was no 24 hour cable TV news back then hoping for something more exciting than the minute-by-minute coverage of the missing Malaysian plane.  The anchors keep asking ambassadors, members of the U.N., leaders of various countries and your usual pundits, do they think diplomacy is failing to the point where something else must be done? This is ridiculous in the face of it when you think that diplomacy has been going on for less than a month, while the next step they are obviously expecting – war – can take as much as 10 years to solve the problem and it will cost blood and treasure not just airfare and dinners.

Once again I find Costa Rica a better example of inter-country conflict.  It has been having a border dispute with Nicaragua for over two years – all of it on a diplomatic level.

I am no fan of President Putin. I don’t even know him.  Actually, I don’t know any of the people involved in the Ukraine situation.  I just know what I read in the news and watch on TV.

We all are taught to believe that our country’s leaders (our guys) tell the truth and the other guys are full of propaganda.

As I said, I am no fan of Putin’s but I felt sorry for him during the Winter Olympics in Sochi.  He knocked himself and his country out
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart

trying to make it a great event, and all the Western media talked about was the threat of terrorist attacks and the lack of snow.  Some Western leaders decided not to attend, just in case.  As it turned out, the Olympiads had a great time and the event was a success. This was quietly reported by the press.

I am a bit confused about International law and what it allows.  Putin evidently broke it by even thinking about going into Ukraine and for allowing a vote in the Crimea.  I guess it was all right for the U.S. to go into Vietnam to prevent the spread of communism, and to invade Iraq on the basis that they had chemical weapons, and for Israel to bomb Syria’s nuclear bomb building site that the Israelis knew they had and for the West to actively encourage the rebels in Libya to overthrow Gadaffi.

Now words like terrorists (i.e. Russian sympathizers) and thugs and fascists (i.e. members of the new Ukraine government) are being carelessly bandied about.  Well, names are better than sticks and stones, and they can do damage.   Thugs and fascists are words that have been around since World War II and have been used to describe more than one head of state.  I do worry that the label terrorist, a more recent term, is being bandied about too freely, and any country that is faced with dissidents or protesters can call them terrorists and react accordingly.

Meanwhile, I applaud Costa Rica for its insistence on diplomacy and International mediation.  And I am happy the Festival de las Artes is over.  The bass thumping, day and night coming from La Sabana, was all I could hear of the music for a week. I can assure you it was almost enough to drive me into the street, yelling, Terrorists!. Terrorists! and try to round up a Tico army.

Meanwhile, the 21st century mouse that is roaring has already received a billion dollars from the United States and help and monies from some European countries.  Once the Mouse that Roared was a satire, now it is a Cinderella story.  If they really give diplomacy a chance and nobody goes to war over this, it will be worth it.

DelRey nightlife

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