The province of Bataan in the Philippines is home to highly threatened marine turtles, such as the olive ridley, green sea turtle, and hawksbill turtle. In the municipality of Mariveles, the local government and a group of community volunteers are now more adept at protecting these marine turtles or pawikan after participating in a training that was organized by the USAID’s Protect Wildlife project and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The three-day training taught the participants basic marine turtle biology and conservation protocols and threats via online lectures. On the third day, they performed exercises and demonstrations on responding to marine turtle stranding, managing hatcheries, recording and reporting data, and releasing pawikan hatchlings. The participants were able to identify gaps in their conservation program and draw up strategies or recommendations to mitigate threats to marine turtles, such as dynamite fishing and ingestion of plastic waste. These recommendations would be translated into local conservation protocols to be presented to Mariveles stakeholders.
Previously, the project had conducted a site assessment of the marine turtle nesting beach in Mariveles—covering the communities of Mountain View, Cabcaben and Townsite—to gather information on the communities' satellite hatcheries and conservation practices and measures.
The Protect Wildlife project’s support for the DENR and Mariveles local government is part of its broader marine turtle conservation program. The project helps partners protect nesting sites by introducing nationally accepted standards and protocols; training partners on proper handling of marine turtles, eggs and hatchlings; and establishing or strengthening the management of hatcheries. (PWP/ May Anne Ramos)