Green turtles over seagrass in Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands Turtle Project is a longstanding initiative to improve the management of the islands’ traditional marine turtle fishery.

Working with initially skeptical turtle fishing communities, we helped to create new regulations with balanced and fair recommendations to improve the sustainability of the turtle fishery.

The recommended regulations were approved by the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) government and endorsed by the fishing communities, and came into force in July 2014.

Amdeep interviewing fisherman in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands

Amdeep Sanghera, UKOT Conservation Officer, interviewing fisherman in Grand Turk

Credit: Tommy Phillips

These new regulations respect traditional rights to this resource, but provide protections for large and breeding adult turtles to support population recovery in the TCI and wider Caribbean region.

We continue to work with TCI fishing communities as part of this project, and are reviewing enforcement and compliance with the updated regulations. Through evaluating this impact, we’ll be able to inform the TCI government's next steps for the turtle fishery and improve enforcement protocols where necessary, ensuring TCI’s turtle populations are safeguarded for future generations to come.

You can read more about our latest work in the Turks and Caicos through this blog on our funders' website, the People's Trust for Endangered Species.

Tracking turtles

As part of the project, we’ve attached satellite transmitters to 26 green and hawksbill turtles. Suzie, an adult green turtle, was the first turtle to be tagged in 2009. She surprised everyone by taking an incredible and record-breaking 6,000 km round trip across the Caribbean over the course of nine months before returning home to TCI.

We also studied “teenage” green turtles. Results from tracking 20 teenage turtles have highlighted the value of a specific Marine Protected Area in the TCI for the regional health of these populations.

As part of this project, we work with the Turks and Caicos Islands Government Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR), the University of Exeter, Duke University (USA), as well as local partners.

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Healthier oceans, protected oceans