In many cases, sufficient information is available for specific actions to be taken at specific locations. However, to effectively implement the entirety of this Action Plan, we must take a regional approach to coordination of activities to keep sight of priorities and progress at the level of the EP leatherback population. For these reasons, we recommend strengthening regional collaboration and analyses that will provide refined targets for conservation goals (e.g., the number of turtles needed to be saved to promote population recovery, which nesting beaches need further protection, identification of high bycatch areas, vital rates such as age at first reproduction, overall population structure and size), and will harmonize regional efforts (e.g., standardization of data collection and reporting for bycatch assessments and nesting beach monitoring).
3.1. Strengthen regional coordination of activities to maintain population-level priorities
3.1.1. Develop national networks and a regional network to facilitate information exchange and harmonize activities.
3.1.2. Standardize data collection protocols and develop regional databases with common standards for bycatch and nesting beach assessments.
3.1.3. Generate a catalog of primary (> 20 nesting females per year) and secondary beaches (> 5 nesting females per year), including annual abundance and degree of protection.
3.1.4. Create regional monitoring system of hatching success and influential environmental factors (e.g., beach and nest temperatures, beach dynamics, etc.).
3.1.5. Construct new demographic model for EP leatherbacks to determine quantified targets for levels of bycatch reduction, nesting beach protection/hatchling production, etc., necessary for population stabilization and recovery under different scenarios.
3.2. Facilitate identification and protection of important areas for leatherbacks and bycatch reduction
3.2.1. Conduct and synthesize regional assessments of fisheries that interact with leatherbacks using rapid bycatch assessments and by working through existing regional instruments (e.g. Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, IAC).
3.2.2. Identification of important areas for leatherbacks toward which to focus recommendations for regional action through international policy instruments; Enhance protection efforts in existing protected areas.
3.3. Create alliances between international and national fisheries through RFMOs
3.3.1. Strengthen agreements between IAC Parties and international fisheries through existing MOU between IATTC and IAC.
3.3.2. Enhance observer coverage and reporting of leatherback bycatch that is accessible to decision-makers, environment/fisheries ministers, and researchers.
3.3.3. Identify a focal point person in each country involved with the fisheries sector who can liaise with existing policy instruments.
3.4. Improve compliance with existing resolutions on leatherbacks and bycatch reduction
3.4.1. Use the existing leatherback and bycatch resolutions to urge IAC Parties to enhance efforts to protect leatherbacks on nesting beaches and implement practices for safe handling and release of leatherbacks caught in fishing gear.
3.4.2. Create a working group of the IAC dedicated to evaluating compliance of Parties to existing resolutions.
3.4.3. Use existing instruments and processes to urge Parties/Signatories to regularly provide information on abundance, trends, bycatch rates, and threats impacts.
3.5. Coordinate an information campaign targeting decision-makers, environment and fisheries ministers at the national and RFMO scales
3.5.1. Produce a concept paper describing the current status of leatherbacks, threats, and possible solutions that could be implemented by national and regional authorities.
3.5.2. Meet with ambassadors and government ministers to discuss the current conservation status of leatherbacks in the region.
3.5.3. Engage ministers and decision-makers to discuss current conservation status and possible solutions through existing international agreements and instruments.
A detailed table including these recommended actions, plus implementation sites, timeframes, costs, and possible implementers was also prepared as part of the Action Plan. Download the table here.