On 8th October 2021, the Department of Fisheries in collaboration with the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) conducted a training in turtle conservation. The training was undertaken as part of a COVID-19 rapid response project entitled “Sustenance of monitoring, maintenance and operation of the Pointe Sables Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA) and the Pigeon Island National Landmark (PINL) impacted by COVID-19”.
The project was funded by the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States through the BIOPAMA Programme. The main objective of the project was to enhance the capacity of the SLNT to manage and monitor the Pointe Sable Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA) and Pigeon Island National Landmark (PINL) to sustain biodiversity conservation initiatives and reduce unsustainable practices within both protected areas.
The training session was conducted at the SLNT’s Southern Office in the Maria Island Interpretation Centre in Vieux Fort. The participants of this training included SLNT’s rangers from both PSEPA and PINL, as well as management. This training session provided participants with information about how to identify various species of sea turtles, their nesting behaviour and how to aid a turtle in distress. Participants were also taught how to tag turtles and collect turtle monitoring data.
Mrs. Jeannine Compton-Antoine, SLNT’s Corporate Services Manager, explained that conserving sea turtles is critical for sustaining the health of our oceans as among other roles, sea turtles play a vital role in maintaining the productivity of coral reef ecosystems and contribute to beach nourishment and the sand dune creation.
The main trainer for the session, Ms. Yvonne Edwin a Fisheries Officer within the Department of Fisheries, indicated that the Department is working on resuming turtle tagging as one of the strategies for improving the turtle monitoring efforts in Saint Lucia, as turtle tagging is one of the effective tools used in sea turtle monitoring programmes.
The SLNT intends to continue collaborating with the Department of Fisheries to expand its contribution to the turtle conservation programme in Saint Lucia through among other strategies, improved monitoring, data collection and public education in PSEPA and PINL.