At Sea

The Frente por Nuestros Mares (Front for our Oceans) advocates for more sustainable fishing practices within Costa Rica. The Leatherback Trust, 5 other environmental organizations and 10 artisanal fishing cooperatives comprise the group, whose first priority was to end bottom trawling for shrimp. Bottom trawlers discard up to 9 times as much unwanted bycatch (including juvenile fish, sharks and turtles) for every shrimp captured, a destructive practice that is both harmful to the environment and damaging to artisanal fisheries. The Constitutional Court ruled that Costa Rica’s national fisheries agency, INCOPESCA, could not distribute any new permits for bottom trawlers.

© Jason Bradley |

Following this victory, the Frente por Nuestros Mares has embarked on a campaign to reform INCOPESCA. The agency is charged with serving the public interest and ensuring the sustainable use of fisheries resources. As part of the reform effort, the Frente por Nuestros Mares seeks to reduce the undue influence of industrial fisheries.

Many leatherbacks bear scars from entanglement in fishing gear.

© Doug Perrine |

In addition to our important work to protect leatherbacks in Costa Rican waters, TLT engages in other international sea turtle research and conservation efforts, involving several different species (e.g., loggerhead, green, olive ridley) within different ocean regions (Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, and the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas). Our data and analyses (e.g., peer-reviewed papers, technical reports) play a catalytic role in development, implementation and long-term monitoring of protected ocean habitats. TLT used findings from our Lost Years project to support designation of high-use habitats within the Central American Dome and the South Pacific Gyre as Ecological and Biological Sensitive Areas under the Convention on Biological Diversity.