Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Mediterranean Region
2017 - 2022
3 marine turtle species occur in the Mediterranean Sea: the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) nest here, while the huge Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is an occasional visitor, mainly in search of food. These 3 species are included in the List of Endangered and Threatened Species, annexed to the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean.
In the IUCN RED List of Threatened Species, Green turtles are classified as globally “Endangered", Loggerhead turtles as globally “Vulnerable”, and Leatherback turtles as “Vulnerable”. The Mediterranean sub-population of Loggerhead turtle is assessed as “Least Concern” (LC), BUT conservation dependent. This means that if conservation efforts cease, their population will start decreasing again.
It is estimated that only about 800 green adult females and 1.800 loggerhead females nest in the Mediterranean. In summer, marine turtles nest on sandy beaches.
Loggerheads mainly nest in Greece, Turkey, Libya, and Cyprus and in smaller numbers in Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Tunisia, and Italy. Green turtles mainly nest in Turkey, Cyprus, and Syria, while a few nests are recorded in Lebanon, Egypt, and Israel.
Important feeding and overwintering areas have been identified, however, further research is needed.
Marine turtles in the Mediterranean are protected under national legislation and international and regional conventions such as the Bern Convention (Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats), Bonn Convention (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals), and Barcelona Convention and its protocol concerning especially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (SPA/BD Protocol). Within the EU (Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC), the loggerhead turtle is a priority species whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation, and all three species of marine turtles are considered species of community interest in need of strict protection.
The Project Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Mediterranean Region aims to enhance the protection and conservation of Marine Turtles in the Mediterranean Region by reducing human-induced direct mortality.
Conservation activities are taking place in 13 Mediterranean Countries:
Albania, Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, and Turkey.
Nine direct partners and numerous indirect partners are collaborating to protect sea turtles in the framework of this project. This partnership demonstrates how one species can bring together so many organizations for one common goal.
Ms Lobna BEN NAKHLA, Program Officer at UNEP-MAP SPA/RAC
Objectives / results
- Applied Research and Monitoring of nesting sites and marine hotspots
- Reinforcement of coordination and implementation of harmonized protocols
- Capacity building for relevant stakeholders for marine turtle conservation
- Improvement of management and protection of nesting sites
- Reduce illegal trade of marine turtles in Tunisia
- Partnership Sustainability and Coordination
- Increasing Knowledge to Create Baseline for Effective Conservation
- Securing long-term buy-in for sea turtle conservation
- Scaling up Site Protection