Sea turtle

NCF, LFZC Educate Riverine Communities on Sea Turtle Conservation

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) have organised series of awareness programmes on sea turtle conservation for riverine communities in Lagos State.

The events done in collaboration with the Lagos Free Zone company (LFZC) began in December 2022 in line with the partnership agreement signed between the two organisations.

A statement signed by Oladapo Soneye, NCF Communications Manager, at the weekend, said the activities sought to promote the preservation of endangered sea turtles and reduce the impact of human activities on their population within the operational range and surrounding communities around the LFZC.

The statement added: ‘The community awareness and sensitization exercises on sea turtles that were embarked on aimed to achieve the following: support the ecosystem in mitigating the impact of human activities; educate and create awareness within and beyond the surrounding communities; evaluate the behaviour of stakeholders towards sea turtle conservation; and promote environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation.

‘Sea turtles play an important role in maintaining marine and coastal ecosystems.  Their ecosystem functions include nutrients recycling, maintaining habitat integrity, maintaining the ecosystem of coastal reefs and coastal dunes. Unfortunately, most species of sea turtles are currently threatened according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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‘The decline in the population of these species is largely due to anthropogenic pressures on the species and its habitats. Activities such as commercial fishing, loss of nesting habitat, pollution, harvesting of their eggs, overfishing, direct hunting of sea turtle for meat all contribute to the decline of the species. As their population decline, so does their ability to fulfil vital functions in the marine ecosystems.’

NCF, LFZC Educate Riverine Communities on Sea Turtle Conservation

Nigerian Ministry of Environment during a visit to the Nigerian Conservation Foundation NCF

The awareness program took place at Magbon-Segun hall, Okunraye Baale’s house, and Idotun hall with 115 participants including traditional leaders, youth leaders, fishermen and traders, drawn from Magbon-Segun, Okesegun, Ilekuru, Okunraye, Lujagba, Idotun and Itoke communities.

Concerns raised included availability of protein substitutes for sea turtles; livelihood intervention; handling accidental bycatches; accounting for damaged fishing gears and disagreement on the major causes of species decline. Others were myths and beliefs; the roles of large trawlers in the species decline; actions on captured species, as well as compensation for fishers in the case of damaged nets from accidental catch of turtles.

Key recommendations included consistent awareness programmes, monitoring of sea turtle activities, livelihood intervention to deter dependence on turtle trade and consumption, apt legislation and research and conservation centre.

NCF is the foremost environmental NGO in Nigeria dedicated to nature conservation and biodiversity resources management. A key pillar in the 2021-2025 NCF Strategic Action Pillar (SAP) is “Saving Species in Peril”, designed to rescue and conserve threatened and endangered species.