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Home » Illegal Take and Trade

Illegal Take and Trade of Marine Turtles in the IOSEA region

WWF-IOSEA Fact sheet based on the IOSEA synthesis paper

Executive Summary and Full Draft Synthesis paper

Further reading

Marine turtle trade online news featured on the IOSEA Website and on other websites

List of organisations active in the fight against marine turtle trade in the IOSEA region

How you can get involved

Activities of the IOSEA Working Group to address issues related to marine turtle trade


IOSEA Synthesis Paper and Executive Summary

The synthesis paper "Illegal Take and Trade of Marine Turtles in the IOSEA Region" was originally tabled at the Seventh Meeting of IOSEA Signatory States (Bonn, Germany, September 2014). The Secretariat prepared the paper in response to concerns expressed at the Sixth Meeting (Bangkok, January 2012) that illegal take and trade of marine turtles and their derivatives was largely under-reported by Signatory States, suggesting a need for closer examination of the problem.

The paper examines the patterns and trends in illegal turtle take and trade in the IOSEA region since the year 2000 and reviews various studies and measures undertaken by governments, intergovernmental bodies and NGOs. The study considers only illegal take, leaving aside legal slaughter, traditional/cultural take for personal consumption (where this is legal), and unintentional killing of turtles during fishing operations. It considers all IOSEA Signatory States (35 countries) and a number of non-Signatories (Brunei Darussalam, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore). As IOSEA sources alone are insufficient to provide a comprehensive understanding of the issue, the paper also draws upon several other sources of information readily available to the IOSEA Secretariat. The analysis is mostly organised with reference to the four IOSEA sub-regions, namely: South-East Asia and proximity (SEA+), Northern Indian Ocean (NIO), Northwest Indian Ocean (NWIO) and Western Indian Ocean (WIO).

The analysis was constrained by the fact that there are not many studies on the levels and drivers of take and trade in marine turtles, nor are there many accounts of initiatives taken nationally and regionally to address the issue. Sources were found to be most abundant for the IOSEA SEA+ sub-region, followed by the WIO sub-region. Only limited data were available for the NWIO and NIO sub-regions.

Since the preparation of the synthesis in 2014, the IOSEA Secretariat has prepared an abbreviated version of the paper for submission as an information document to the 66th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Geneva, January 2016). The Executive Summary includes additional information provided by the Secretariat pro tempore of the 'Inter-American Convention' concerning illegal take/trade issues in the region covered by that binding agreement. The paper was prepared in consultation with Signatory States and Parties of both instruments, in particular, the IOSEA 'Working Group on Illegal Take of and Trade in Marine Turtles', and the IAC Scientific Committee.

Although the CITES Secretariat declined to submit the document as an in-session paper for discussion at the SC meeting, there will be many other opportunities over the coming year for interested countries to raise the profile of illegal take/trade of marine turtles, including at the CITES COP17 (Johannesburg, Sept/Oct 2016). The IUCN World Conservation Congress, being held in Hawaii in September 2016, will surely include a discussion of illegal trade in freshwater turtles, and this might also present an opportunity to join forces with the concerned IUCN Specialist Group.

Coincidentally, illegal global trade in wildlife is receiving increasing attention among a broad spectrum of international organisations which have formed the “International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime” – namely, the CITES Secretariat, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank, and the World Customs Organization.

For its part, the United Nations Environment Assembly has charged the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with facilitating implementation of its Resolution 1/3 on Illegal Trade in Wildlife. Among other things, UNEP is analysing the environmental impacts of illegal trade in wildlife, undertaking a global public awareness-raising initiative to address knowledge gaps, and is supporting government efforts to strengthen environmental rule of law. While many of these initiatives appear to have a bias towards terrestrial wildlife, the availability of the joint IOSEA-IAC paper offers a unique opportunity to insert marine species into the mix.

All CMS/IOSEA Signatory States that have an interest in the topic are encouraged to make use of the Executive Summary when considering potential interventions in relevant international fora.



Click to download the Executive Summary here or visit the CITES website to view the same paper presented to the CITES Standing Committee as Inf. Doc. SC66 Inf.7.


UNEP © IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU Secretariat, c/o UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific,
United Nations Building, Rajdamnern Nok Avenue, Bangkok, 10200, Thailand
Tel: + (662) 288 1471 ; Fax: + (662) 288 3041 / 288 1029; E-mail: IOSEA Secretariat
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