Since 2005, WCS has partnered with several governmental and non-governmental organisations present in Gabon to create the Partenariat pour les Tortues Marines du Gabon (Gabon Marine Turtle Partnership). This network includes government authorities, such as the National Parks Agency, the General Bureau for Fisheries, the National Centre for Oceanographic Data and Information-CNDIO/CENAREST, and NGOs such as WWF, Ibonga, Manga, Fondation Liambissi and Avèntures Sans Frontières. Additional collaborations with external experts include Exeter University (UK), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA), the National Marine Fisheries Service (USA), and the University of Florence (Italy). As a result, a formidable network is working synergistically to address the threats and monitor the conservation status of these iconic species. WCS focuses its field efforts in two main landscapes: the National Parks of Loango and Mayumba, although the research and conservation activities of the Gabon Sea Turtle Partnership are distributed along the entire coastline.
A number of collaborative research studies are on-going, focusing on obtaining in-depth descriptions of sea turtle behaviour and distribution, on-land and at-sea. A better understanding of the overlap of sea turtles with their principal threats is essential to assessing the impact of these threats and sea turtles’ vulnerabilities to them. In turn, this data is used to inform and refine the government’s management strategies and conservation priorities. For instance, our work has helped the government marine conservation agency, Gabon Bleu, to identify priority marine areas for conservation and to plan mitigation of industry impacts.
Given the importance of international coordination in the conservation of such migratory species, WCS has also developed collaborative projects in other Gulf of Guinea countries, including neighbouring Congo and Equatorial Guinea as well as throughout the eastern and western Atlantic, where Gabon’s sea turtles are known to migrate.