Capturing fisher input on regulatory change in the Turks and Caicos Islands marine turtle fishery and assessing the possibility of co-management
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Within Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) waters there are two main species of marine turtle that nest and forage: green and hawksbill turtles. Both are listed on the global IUCN Red List as endangered and critically endangered, respectively, but are fished legally in TCI waters. The fishery is mostly unregulated, and the government of TCI and the Marine Conservation Society of the United Kingdom (MCS-UK) have been working with fishers to improve management. Over the past two years, MCS-UK has conducted extensive fisher engagement and research on the nature and scope of the fishery. Based on research and fisher input, MCS-UK will recommend a new management plan in 2011. Through an extensive literature review and analysis of the TCI turtle fishery, I assess the potential for co-management in the fishery by fishermen and government. Analysis of fisher interviews demonstrates perspectives on management of the turtle fishery in general, and fisher preference for certain management techniques. Coupling my analysis of the fishery and co-management theory with fisher and community member responses leads me to recommend the following management measures: closed areas; protection of nesting females and eggs; a slot size limit; a closed season and some gear restrictions. The analysis also reveals the possibility of co-management in the fishery and I suggest increasing fisher involvement in the decision-making process. After implementing and assessing a co-management plan for the marine turtle fishery in the TCI, it may act as a guide for initiating similar programs for the more economically important conch and lobster fisheries.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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