TUNE UP: Multilevel governance for reducing the threat of bycatch on sea turtles

TUNE UP: Multilevel governance for reducing the threat of bycatch on sea turtles


Status: in progress

Categorization: habitat and biodiversity

Country: Spain

Period: /

Contact info

Name: Pablo Vera

Organization: SEO

Email: valencia@seo.org



Summary description: The initiative aims to improve the conservation status of sea turtles by reducing the deleterious effects of bycatch, as well as raising awareness among professional fishermen, and providing tools on how to act when a sea turtle appears entangled in fishing nets. Traditionally, fishermen left turtles in the sea, even if they were injured, considering that, as they are protected species, they could receive some kind of fine from the regional authorities. Different awareness and sensitization actions have been promoted, as well as the improvement of coordination between organizations. As an example of governance and the creation of synergies between stakeholders, the project involves fishermen's guilds, environmental NGOs (responsible for environmental awareness and education, and for caring for sea turtles before releasing them), research institutes (responsible for the collection of turtles in the harbors and their study) and the regional administration (in charge of watching over the protected fauna). Once the specimens are in perfect health to be returned to the sea, they are released. In many times this action is carried out with the participation of schoolchildren as part of the awareness-raising work with the younger generations who also participate in environmental volunteering, such as cleaning the beaches where these sea turtles make their nests.

Type: project


EU Principles: (i) taking a holistic and integrated approach (economic, social and environmental aspects), (iii) involving stakeholders, (v) promoting awareness and commitment

Reason of interest for COASTING: The initiative is a clear example of multilevel governance and close collaboration between a diverse group of stakeholders that, in a collaborative, voluntary and inclusive way, implement an action that allows to overcome one of the main problems faced by sea turtles in the MPA. At the same time, the existence and success of the initiative favors the implementation of new collaborative measures between stakeholders.

Financial information

: 0.00 €

Financial sources: TBD

Background information

Territorial context: The bottoms of the MPA are mainly composed of gravel and support seagrass meadows in some areas. The main related economic sector is fishing. The MPA is a professional fishing reserve area, in which only small bivalves (tellina) are exploited. The productivity of the area is key to extensive fishing in the surroundings, on which two fishermen communities depend. In recent years traditional fishing is being abandoned, mainly due to the lack of generational change and its low profitability.

Relation to policies and strategies: - Habitats Directive (92/43 / EEC), which calls for the protection of sea turtles and their habitats, and to develop specific conservation actions. This directive is transposed into the Spanish regulatory framework through Spanish National Law 42/2007, of December 13, on Natural Heritage and Biodiversity. - Framework Directive on Marine Strategy (2008/56 / EC), which establishes a framework for Community action for marine environment policy. - Law 41/2010, of December 29, on the protection of the marine environment constitutes the transposition into the Spanish regulatory system of Directive 2008/56 / EC, introduces the obligation to develop marine strategies. On the other hand, Law 41/2010 constitutes a uniform and complete regulatory framework to guarantee the articulation of human activities in the sea in such a way that the conservation of marine ecosystems is not compromised, in accordance with the ecosystem approach. Likewise, Law 41/2010 introduces the obligation that the secto

Regulation framework: parrafo anterior - no cabe

Specific information

Objectives: - To prevent the death of sea turtles in fishing gear - To improve the conservation status of these species - To raise awareness among professional fishermen about the importance of protecting these species - To increase knowledge about the biology of the species and their presence in the MPA - To raise awareness in society by disseminating the initiative



Innovation aspects: The main innovative aspect is the change of attitudes and the reversal of a relevant threat into a conservation opportunity (and of some agents causing problems in some allies for the conservation of the species). This has been achieved mainly by creating an open space for voluntary and inclusive collaboration between stakeholders of different types that traditionally do not find communication channels.

Actions: Specific sensitization and awareness actions have been developed by regional government, NGO and research institutes with fishermen, through workshops aimed at fishermen, and releasing events of recovered turtles together with their families, as well as the delivery of prizes and public recognition of their work, especially through NGO and the regional government. Very important information about their biology and ecology has been obtained from the recovered sea turtles.

Stakeholders involvement: no cabe...The Good Practice is based on the creation of a local initiative to tackle one of the conservation problems in the MPA Albufera. A total of 6 stakeholders are involved: - The fishermen's guilds of Valencia and Cullera - NGO and environmental foundations: Xaloc and Fundación Oceanogràfic - Research Institute: University of Valencia - Regional government The first step consisted of involving the fishermen in making a change in their attitude towards sea turtles bycatch, and also a change in practices, on the basis of prior ignorance of the current regulations. For this, a room of trust and open dialogue was created between fishermen, environmental NGOs, research centres and the regional government. After this first step of establishing collaboration ties between stakeholders, the community created through public recognition of fishermen has been strengthened since then, after general recognition about the involvement of fishermen in sea turtle conservation, awarding of prizes

Results achieved: This initiative has managed to reverse a negative situation (abandonment of injured turtles in the sea) to transform it into a positive situation (recovery of injured turtles, increased local awareness, increased research and improved information applicable to species management). The change in fishermen attitudes has promoted the recovery of about 50 sea turtles and the environmental education of nearly 1,000 children.

Potential for learning and transfer

Challenges and obstacles: The main difficulty lies in changing attitudes towards turtle accidental capture (from being a problem to being an active conservation measure). The involvement of the research centres has made it easier for the fishermen or other entities not to be responsible for transferring the injured turtles to the wildlife recovery centres, facilitating the process.


Transferability in COASTING project: The experience can be transferred to a wide range of coastal territories. The main threats and conservation issues of sea turtles, as well as their interactions with fishing activities, are common and occur throughout the Mediterranean Sea, but also in other seas and oceans. Moreover, this good practice can be extended to other threatened groups of marine fauna for which bycatch is an important conservation problem (seabirds, sharks, rays, etc.). In all cases, the public bodies responsible for their conservation species can create spaces of trust and collaborative work with fishermen. These two types of stakeholder form the core of the governance model, but this increases in cohesion with the participation of other non-profit entities such as NGOs or research centres, which can be implicated in the initiatives having a greater transcendence at the local scale (implication and awareness raising of society) or increasing scientific knowledge of the species.