The Signatory States to the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia (IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU) have resolved to establish a Network of Sites of Importance for Marine Turtles in the Indian Ocean – South-East Asia Region.
The overarching goal of the IOSEA Marine Turtle Site Network is to promote the long-term conservation of sites of regional and global importance to marine turtles and their habitats. The network serves as a mechanism for sites to operate more cooperatively and synergistically, both ecologically and administratively, rather than working in isolation with minimal coordination. The use of objective criteria to evaluate sites nominated for inclusion in the network aims to prioritise the most critical sites needed to secure the future of marine turtle species/management units.
The expected benefits of the region-wide site network are expected to include:
Optimal use of limited resources for governance
A fully functional network will coordinate available financial, technical and human resources to conduct common training, facilitate exchange of information on best practices, carry out joint research and monitoring, undertake performance evaluation, and encourage adaptive management;
Enhanced local-to-global scale recognition of the importance of the networked sites
The strength of a credible selection process should in turn catalyse increased support and resources for more effective site-based and regional management.
Mitigation of adverse socio-economic impacts over a wider geographic scale
Activities incompatible with marine turtle conservation cannot be eliminated entirely, but such activities may be restricted at selected network sites in a way that diffuses adverse impacts across the wider region.
Protection of ecological connectivity between habitats
The spacing and shape of network sites will be taken into account in the development of the network in such a way as to promote connectivity between nesting, foraging and developmental habitats required by marine turtles.
Optimisation of regional resistance and resilience of marine turtle habitats to environmental stress
Resistance and resilience will be strengthened by including and managing sites containing marine turtle habitats necessary for different life cycle phases, by protecting multiple examples of each habitat type, and by including sites that act as refugia to current and predicted stress.
Countries are invited to nominate turtle nesting beaches and adjacent areas considered to be important sites for marine turtles and, in doing so, will hopefully have an added incentive to secure additional resources and protection at the sites. However, provision of additional resources is not a binding commitment or obligation upon joining the network.
Detailed information on the rationale for the site network proposal, the process for nominating and evaluating candidate sites, and alternative approaches for coordinated governance of sites included in the network is presented in the annex to the resolution that formally established the Site Network.
The Site Network will be populated with sites nominated by Signatory States, and formally accepted for inclusion in the network by the Meeting of Signatory States, based on a recommendation of the IOSEA Advisory Committee. A complementary, parallel process is envisaged whereby a “master list” of priority candidate sites will be drawn up to help guide Signatory States in their site nomination considerations.