"Cooperating to Conserve Marine Turtles - Our Ocean's Ambassadors"

Looking back on the 2006 Year of the Turtle Campaign

The IOSEA Year of the Turtle (YoT) campaign was officially inaugurated in Bangkok on the 1st of March 2006, under the patronage of Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado of Japan. The year-long event succeeded in its goal of raising awareness about the complex issues surrounding the conservation of marine turtles and the habitats on which they depend. The Year of the Turtle coincided with the memorable Fourth Meeting of the IOSEA Signatory States, held in Muscat, Oman, in March 2006; as well as a parallel campaign organised by SPREP for countries of the Pacific.

The level of participation of non-governmental and governmental organisations was outstanding. Approximately 30 countries, representing about three-quarters of the IOSEA region, organised YoT-related activities over the course of the year. Thanks to financial support provided by several donor Governments - namely Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States - and the Convention on Migratory Species, the IOSEA Secretariat was able to provide direct support to small-scale projects in 15 countries.

The range of activities undertaken was impressive. They included launch events, community workshops, festivals, beach clean-ups, and plenty of awareness-raising information material to go along, including T-shirts, caps, attractive posters and postage stamps. The IOSEA Secretariat produced a stunning calendar that graced the walls of thousands of YoT supporters throughout the year.

The Year of the Turtle had a more serious side as well. A number of countries took advantage of the event to formally establish sanctuaries for marine turtles and to open specialised information centres. Technical workshops were organised, satellite tracking projects were initiated, and turtles were released as part of awareness-raising activities. A comprehensive IOSEA report on the status of Leatherback turtles was released, containing well-considered recommendations for follow-up action.

The campaign left a lasting legacy in terms of heightened awareness (confirmed by a tremendous, enduring increase in traffic to the IOSEA website); an infusion of support to dedicated conservation organisations working at grass roots levels; and enhanced interest and support from the private sector.

The following archive captures the spirit of some - but by no means all - of the extensive range of activities conducted throughout the 2006 Year of the Turtle. Thanks to everyone who participated in and contributed to this fantastic campaign!

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