By Nekita Turnbull
British Virgin Islands (GIS, BVI) – The government of the Virgin Island in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the University of Exeter and the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK) BVI virtually launched a three-year sea turtle conservation project titled “Sustaining Turtles, Environment, Economies, and Livelihoods (STEEL)” on October 26.
Project leader Dr Peter Richardson, head of ocean recovery at MCS, said that he is pleased that the project can commence on the ground in the Virgin Islands, and is looking forward to hearing and engaging with the community when the UK partners can come to work there.
In the Virgin Islands, the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK) will lead on the project alongside MCS, working closely with the department of agriculture and fisheries and the ministry of natural resources, labour and immigration. The University of Exeter will provide technical academic advice. The initiative will support the improved management of turtle populations and the recovery of crucial habitats, including reefs and seagrass meadows.
During the virtual presentation project co-leader Dr Shannon Gore said it is important that sea turtles exist in the wild, in the future and in the BVI where they are culturally valuable.
She added, “Local people should be allowed to catch and eat sea turtles, provided it is done sustainably and doesn’t threaten the regional population, and turtle conservation should be managed in cooperation with neighbouring states.”
To view the full presentation, visit the government’s Facebook page using the handle @BVIGovernment or click.
This three-year project will aid in gaining a better understanding of the status of turtles using the Virgin Islands’ habitats, and foster improved local knowledge of turtle conservation. Using the MCS’s Community Voice Method (CVM) of engagement, the project will work with the community to develop legislation recommendations and a conservation action plan to safeguard the Virgin Islands’ turtle populations for future generations.
As part of the project, the public is invited to share its knowledge of sea turtles and their conservation in the Virgin Islands by participating in a five-minute quiz. The information gathered will inform the project Sustaining Turtles, Environment, Economies and Livelihoods – or “STEEL”.
Nekita Turnbull, Information Officer II, Department of Information & Public Relations