Sea Turtle Friendly
There are seven species of Sea Turtles in the world, all of which are formally designated as Threatened Species. Two species, the Hawksbill and Olive Ridley, are now considered Critically Endangered. Many factors are contributing to a decline in Sea Turtles, including turtle hunting, collection of eggs for food and trade, illegal fishing, pollution by litter and debris, unsustainable fishing methods, and weak law enforcement.
Sea Turtles are poached for their shells, leather, meat, and oil. Poorly planned beach development, lighting choices, and recreation – mainly provided for the benefit of tourism – often interfere with turtle nesting. By partnering with local communities, the travel and hospitality industry, and on-the-ground conservation partners like the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network (WIDECAST – www.widecast.org), Sea Turtle Friendly™ acts to provide new and sustainable livelihood opportunities for coastal communities that might otherwise turn to trade in sea turtle meat, parts or egg poaching, and to reduce other impacts of development and recreational activities.
Sea Turtle Friendly™ certification encourages tourism sector operators to take pride in their role as Sea Turtle stewards and in securing a long-term future for the a turtle-based tourism economy. In 2017, the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN) worked with experts to develop and pilot Sea Turtle Friendly™ standards for lodging and tour operators in the Philippines.
WFEN is currently scoping for program expansion to the Latin American / Caribbean region and beyond.