Sea turtle hunting and eggs poaching have a substantial history in Bassa Point, Little Bassa and Edina communities. Results from surveys conducted by the project implementors in these regions have shown that sea turtle meat and egg trades are influenced by the pervasiveness of rural poverty and the tradition of turtle eggs as food. The level of awareness about sea turtle protection is very low. Many people believe that their forefathers had been killing sea turtles for meat and trade, so they too have adapted to the activity of harvesting eggs on the beach.
In addition to this, the national fishery laws and regulations have not been fully enforced due to limited resources available to the National Government agencies responsible for turtle protection. As a result, community members tend to undermine conservation work in the target and surrounding areas.
The project will address the lack of knowledge and understanding of national fishery regulations protecting the sea turtles and other marine species amongst communities and laws enforcement officers in the regions; the lack of adequate knowledge and educational platforms where local people will learn about sea turtles in the region; and the absence of alternative livelihoods for the local communities to ensure the conservation of sea turtles in the region.
The project activities are structured to use increased community involvement during the implementation. By getting local people involved, for example, the hiring of local poachers for daily beach monitoring, poaching of sea turtle eggs in the area will become a thing of the past.
The project will employ adaptive, participatory and educational techniques to achieve its plans to raise awareness to the coastal communities of the region by improving the quality and availability of awareness-raising and educational materials.
Additional beach monitors from the local communities will be recruited and trained so nesting beaches are protected all year round. The local people will benefit from community funds and materials provided as a contribution to small scale community development projects in the region.
The key expected results of this project are:
- to increase understanding and awareness amongst communities about sea turtles, the fishery and endangered animals laws and regulations relating to their protection;
- increase awareness about marine turtle conservation amongst school children and community members thanks to the enabling environment created by nature clubs associated to some schools;
- incite change in community perceptions and attitudes towards marine turtles;
- identify and implement small-scale community projects to serve as benefit for the local people support to the project.