New observations of sea turtle trade in Alexandria, Egypt

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Boura, L., S.S. Abdullah, M.A. Nada. 2016. New observations of sea turtle trade in Alexandria, Egypt. A report by MEDASSET - Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles. 27 pp.

Transcript of New observations of sea turtle trade in Alexandria, Egypt

  • NEWOBSERVATIONSOFSEATURTLETRADEINALEXANDRIA,EGYPT

    SUMMARY Page|2

    AUTHORS LizaBoura,SherifS.Abdullah, MohamedA.NadaCONTACTDETAILS

    MEDASSETMediterraneanAssociationtoSavetheSeaTurtlesc/o4,illsideClose,LondonNW8OEF,UK|T:+4420328661891cLicavitouSt.,10672Athens,Greece|T/F:+302103613572medasset@medasset.orgwww.medasset.org

    COPYRIGHT Reproduction and dissemination in full or in part of this publication foreducationalorothernoncommercialpurposesareauthorisedwithoutanypriorwrittenpermissionprovidedthesourceisfullyacknowledgedandcited.Allphotos,unlessotherwisestated:201415MEDASSET,Photo:S.S.Abdullah.CoverDesign:MelinaPagoni.Layout:LizaBoura.

    CITATION Boura,L.,S.S.Abdullah,M.A.Nada.2016.NewobservationsofseaturtletradeinAlexandria,Egypt.A reportbyMEDASSET MediterraneanAssociation toSavetheSeaTurtles.27pp.

    DISCLAIMER Thedesignationsemployedandthepresentationofmaterialinthisdocumentdonot imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever concerning the legal ordevelopmentstatusofanycountry,territory,cityorareaorofitsauthorities,orconcerningthedelimitationofitsfrontiersorboundaries.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

    Awarm thanks to the fishermen, fishmongersand residents inAlexandriawhowere interviewed for the survey. Thanks are due to Lily Venizelos forencouragingandsupportingthissurvey,forbeingatruerolemodelandforherdedication tomarine turtle conservation.We are grateful to R. Snape (ExeterUniversity), Dr G. Schofield (Deakin University) and Dr A. Abdulla (IUCN) forassistingwithspecies identification through thephotographicevidenceand forreviewing the manuscript. Our thanks to Dott.sa F. Bentivegna (CNRIAMC),MEDASSETBoardMembers L.VenizelosandDrM.Kasparek for reviewing themanuscriptandtoA.Stamatiouforproofreading.Lastly,weexpressoursincereappreciationtoEgyptsMinisterofEnvironmentforhisleadershipinresponsetopreliminarysurvey resultssubmittedbyMEDASSET inFebruaryApril2015,andto the staff of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency and enforcementauthoritieswhotookpartinthepoliceoperationinMay2015inAlexandria.

    ABOUTMEDASSET

    Founded in1988,MEDASSET is an internationalenvironmentalNGO registeredasacharityand limited liabilitycompany intheUKandaPermanentObserverMember to theBern Convention, Council of Europe.MEDASSETworks closelywithMEDASSET Greece a notforprofit organisation established in 1993 inGreece,whichisapartnertotheUNsMediterraneanActionPlan(UNEP/MAP).Bothorganisations are active in the study and conservationof sea turtles andtheir habitats throughout the Mediterranean. Common goals are achievedthroughscientificresearch,environmentaleducation,lobbyingrelevantdecisionmakers,andraisingpublicawareness.

    PREFACE ThesurveywaspromptedbyM. Nada, MEDASSETsrepresentativeinEgypt,andwas made possible thanks to S. Abdullahs enthusiasm and dedication toundertaking the survey as a MEDASSET volunteer, under the coauthorsguidance.ThesurveyisacontinuationofMEDASSETsresearchandconservationprojects inEgyptsince1993and itscollaborationwithM.Nada instudyingandtakingactionontheissueofseaturtletradeandconsumptioninAlexandria.WithintheframeworkofMEDASSETsseaturtleconservationprogrammesintheMediterranean,thecurrentreportaimstoprovideaccesstoallinformationcollectedduringthesurvey,inordertoassistEgyptianmanagers,decisionmakersandconservationiststosafeguardseaturtlepopulationsinEgyptian

    watersandhalttheillegalseaturtletradeinAlexandria.Inaddition,thefindingsreportedinthedocumentarealsorelevantforallstakeholdersinvolvedinsea

    turtleresearchandconservationinEgypt,theMediterraneanandbeyondLilyVenizelos,MEDASSETPresident,MemberofIUCNMarineTurtleSpecialistGroupPleaseconsider

    theenvironmentbeforeprintingthisdocument

  • NEWOBSERVATIONSOFSEATURTLETRADEINALEXANDRIA,EGYPT

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    SUMMARYThe Mediterranean coastal waters of Egypt hostimportantforagingsitesandmigratorycorridorsforsea turtles in the Mediterranean. Trade of seaturtles inEgypthasbeenknowntooccursincetheearly 20th century and turtle consumption inAlexandria has been recorded since the 1970s.Since 1993, MEDASSET has monitored the illegaltrade and carried out campaigns that led to lawenforcement and conservation initiatives. Thecurrent survey is a followup of the last study in2007. Alexandrias markets were visited inSeptember2014March2015 inorder to recordthetradestatusandtoconductinterviewswith148personswiththeaimofgaininginsightintocurrentperceptions.The survey reveals that hidden trade persists andpublic tradehas resumed. Tradewas observed orreported in 6 markets in 3 areas of Alexandria.Turtlesaresourced from fishers inAlexandriawhomostlycatchthemincidentally.Fishermenland90%ofbycaught turtles insteadof releasing themandreportedanannualcatchrateof4.51turtles/vessel(total 216.5 turtles/year by 48 interviewees).Fishmongers and artefact sellers also reportedobtainingturtlesfromotherEgyptianfisheries.Bothloggerhead(Carettacaretta)andgreenturtles(Cheloniamydas)aretargetedandthereisahigherimpact on adults, which are the most valuablereproductivesegmentofthepopulations.Therareleatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) is also traded,as revealedbyapoliceoperation thatwascarriedout by Egyptian authorities in May 2015 afterMEDASSETsubmittedpreliminarysurveyresults.Fishermen either slaughter turtles onboard andconsumeorsellthemeatdirectlytocustomers,orland turtles alive and sell them to fishmongers.Three fishmongers are specialised in turtle tradeandat least36 tradesporadically.Turtlesarekeptalive and emaciating from 1 to 30 days untilslaughter. Interviews indicate that trade hasincreasedby60120% in comparison to surveys in19989and2007.Eightysixpercentof intervieweeshave consumedseaturtlemeat,eventhough90%wereaware it isillegal and 79% knew sea turtles are endangered.Main drivers are tradition or alleged healthbenefits.The survey indicates that thecommunitydoes not depend on turtles as a food source andthe trade is not considered an important income,exceptbythefewspecialisedfishmongers.

    Fishermenandfishmongersalsosupplytheartefactmarket. Sale of embalmed turtles and shells,including Red Sea hawksbill (Eretmochelysimbricata) was observed in shops. Intervieweesreportedartefactsalestotourists,whichmayimplyCITESinfringements.Other endangered species observed being tradedwere:Isurusoxyrinchus,illegallyfishedaccordingtoMediterranean fishing rules; and Red Sea speciesTridacnasppclamsandTriaenodonobesussharks.The survey demonstrates that the last majorhotspot of illegal sea turtle exploitation in theMediterranean has yet to be eradicated. Theimplied90%mortalityrateofbycaughtseaturtlesis higher in the Alexandria fishery than in otherMediterranean fisheries thatdonot supply suchatrade. Halting the trade to prevent unnecessarymortality and mitigating fisheries interaction inEgyptwillbenefitpopulation recoveryandamplifyconservation efforts across the Mediterranean.Egypts importance as a priority area for marineturtle conservation is reconfirmed by the survey.The report provides useful recommendations onresearch,conservationandpolicyaction.CONTENTSIntroduction.............................................................3Objectives&methods.............................................4Limitations..............................................................5Results.....................................................................6Conclusions...........................................................12Recommendations................................................14References.............................................................15Annexes.................................................................17LISTOFTABLES,BOXES&FIGURESFig.1.Mapofseaturtletradelocations..................6Fig.2.Traderoutefromboattobuyer....................7Box1.Fishermeninterviews...................................7Box2.Fishmongerinterviews.................................8Box3.Pricesofseaturtlemeat,blood,shells.........9Fig.3.Haveyoudrunkseaturtleblood?...............10Fig.4.Haveyoueatenseaturtlemeat?N=148....10Fig.5.Areyouawarethatkillingortradingofseaturtlesisillegal?...................................................10Fig.6.Doyouthinkthatit'simportanttoprotectthem?....................................................................10Table1.Averageannualtradebyfishmongers.....10Table2.Seaturtlesobservedonsale....................11

  • NEWOBSERVATIONSOFSEATURTLETRADEINALEXANDRIA,EGYPT

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    INTRODUCTIONThe Mediterranean coastal waters of Egypt areconsidered to host important loggerhead (Carettacaretta)andgreenturtle(Cheloniamydas)foraginggrounds and migratory corridors from multiplenesting areas.1 The presence of the leatherbackturtle (Dermochelyscoriacea)atseahasalsobeenverifiedviastrandingandbycatchsurveys.2Loggerhead and green turtle nesting in Egypt isconsidered low compared tootherMediterraneansites: though minor diffuse nesting is scatteredalong the western Egyptian coastline, the mainnesting area is a 22 km sandy shoreline on theNorth Sinai Peninsula (average 66.5 C.carettanests/year,7C.mydasnests/year).3Amongotherthreatstoseaturtles inEgyptsuchas coastal development, pollution and incidentalcatch in fisheries trade of sea turtles has beenreported since the beginning of the 20th centuryand consumption is a tradition that has beendocumented sinceat least the1970s,especially inAlexandria.4 Egypt is a signatory of internationalconventionssince the1970sandhasalsoadoptednational laws in the 1990s rendering sea turtletradeandconsumptionillegal.5MEDASSETs surveys in 1993 and 19981999documented the sea turtle trade, contributed tothe adoption of Law 4/1994,6 mobilised lawenforcement and empowered local conservationinitiatives to halt the trade in Alexandria. Furtherbehavioural surveys of the Save the Sea TurtleProject by MEDASSET and Friends of theEnvironment Association (Alexandria, Egypt)showed that themainconsumerswere fishermen,fishmongersandcommunitymembersthathadnotcompletedprimaryedu