Campaign to protect turtles in Masirah concludes

Muscat - 

The Environment Society of Oman (ESO) announced the completion of an intensive five-day Masirah Turtle Campaign to ensure sea turtles remain safe in their natural habitat. 

The initiative was launched to raise awareness about the danger that fishermen’s nets can cause to the island’s endangered sea creatures. Various activities were organised such as awareness presentations for fishermen, schoolchildren, Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) and Omani Women's Association, football matches with turtle-themed names, and one municipal beach clean-up with the participation of members of the community.

Thousands of turtles nest on Masirah Island every year, and it represents one of the highest densities of nesting loggerhead turtles in the world. However, nesting habitats of this population are being compromised due to human activities such as bycatch in fishing gear, entanglement in abandoned and lost fishing gear at sea, boat strikes, disturbance on beaches from beach driving, and disorientation due to light pollution.

In February 2019, three skip bins were installed on three beaches used as fish landing sites to encourage fishermen to dispose off their nets in them rather than in the open ocean. The bins were accompanied with signs written in five of the most common spoken languages by the fishing community in Masirah.

This initiative was conducted in coordination with Be’ah, Ecovision, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA), the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) and Masirah Municipality.

Dr Hamed al Gheilani, community outreach manager at ESO, said, “For years, people have lived in harmony with sea turtles, however, today, they are threatened by a number of issues which caused them to become endangered including unsustainable fishing practices, marine pollution, lighting pollution. Climate change has also an underlying impact which is poorly understood to date.”

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