IUCN - Helping hands needed: Marine turtles and their habitats

Helping hands needed: Marine turtles and their habitats

07 October 2007 | News story

Forty eight essays and 108 paintings about marine turtles and their habitats from junior high school pupils on Minh Chau Island in the gulf of Tonkin were judged this September by a committee of environmental and community education activists, local conservationists, teachers, and representative from IUCN Viet Nam.

The contest is part of the education and awareness raising activities on marine turtles under the framework of the project “Support the Implementation of the Marine Turtle Conservation Action Plan in Viet Nam”.

Marine turtles have survived for hundreds of millions of year and are important components of marine habitats as their health can be used to indicate the status of the ecosystems in which they live.  These amazing species are facing significant nesting beach deterioration along the Viet Nam coast.

According to a 2003 IUCN status report on marine turtles, the nesting population of female marine turtles had been reduced from 500 to less than 10 nests per year on the nesting beaches in the gulf of Tonkin.

“Support the Implementation of Marine Turtle Conservation Action Plan in Viet Nam,” implemented by IUCN with funding from the Embassy of Denmark, aims to identify and enhance the benefits of marine biodiversity conservation for local communities and increase knowledge about the threats posed to nesting and migrating turtles.

The key components of the project are monitoring marine turtle movements and raising the awareness in local communities about the ecological importance of marine turtles.  To this end, the project held a training course on the importance of protecting marine turtles and their habitats for more than 50 local fishermen and government officers. An observer program was developed with 20 local volunteers comprising of two groups.  One monitors fishermen’s catches and the other observes the activities of marine turtles on the nesting beach.

School children in grades 6 to 8 have learned about the importance of marine turtle conservation. A grade 6 to 8 teacher-training program was conducted at Minh Chau School to introduce Environmental Education and test the eight lessons in the “Saving Marine Turtles & Their Habitats” education resource package. The teachers provided feedback after teaching these lessons. Through this program, collaborative and productive relationships have been developed with the teachers and pupils of Minh Chau School. 

An award ceremony will be organised in November at Minh Chau Island to honour the enthusiastic participation of local children in the awareness-raising competition called “I Love Marine Turtles.” This event will also highlight the need for the wider participation of the whole community for the protection of marine turtles and their habitats.

For more information, please contact Mrs. Bui Thi Thu Hien at hien@iucn.org.vn