Recovery plan for marine turtles in Australia

Biodiversity conservation
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The Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia is a national plan which aims to aid in the recovery of six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles. These species are the: loggerhead (Caretta caretta), olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), green (Chelonia mydas), flatback (Natator depressus) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles.

The plan considers the conservation requirements of the species across their range and identifies the actions to be taken to ensure the species long-term viability in nature, and the mechanisms to undertake those actions. Due to the cross jurisdictional and international range of most marine turtles (with the exception of flatback turtles, which are endemic to the Australian continental shelf), management of marine turtles requires collaborative arrangements with multiple parties’ participation.

The first Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia was adopted in July 2003. The Australian Government reviewed the 2003 plan in 2013, and recommended that it be remade. This new Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia (the plan) has been developed in conjunction with state and territory governments, Indigenous communities and other stakeholders, and attempts to provide context on the scale and severity of the threats facing marine turtles today.

The plan recognises the cultural, social and spiritual ties that coastal Aboriginal people across northern Australia and Torres Strait Islander communities have with marine turtles, and that managing land and sea country with marine turtle conservation and ongoing customary use is a high priority.

Long-term Recovery Objective

The plan sets out the research and management actions necessary to stop the decline, and support the recovery of marine turtles in Australia. The overarching objective of the plan is to minimise anthropogenic threats to allow for the conservation status of marine turtles to improve so that they can be removed from the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 threatened species list.

Interim Recovery Objectives

Recognising that the long-term recovery objective is unlikely to be achieved during the ten-year life of this plan, the following interim objectives and targets have been set for the life of this plan. The effectiveness of this plan will be measured, and progress towards long-term objectives assessed, on the basis of how well the following targets for interim recovery objectives are met:

  1. Current levels of legal and management protection for marine turtles are maintained or improved both domestically and throughout the migratory range of Australia’s marine turtles.
  2. The management of marine turtles is supported.
  3. Anthropogenic threats are demonstrably minimised.
  4. Trends at index beaches, and population demographics at important foraging grounds are described.
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