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Indian Ocean - South-East Asian (IOSEA) Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding

The Indian Ocean - South-East Asian (IOSEA) Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is a non-binding intergovernmental agreement that aims to protect, conserve, and recover sea turtles and their habitats in the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia region. The agreement falls under the auspices of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Article IV, para. 4).

Six marine turtles are protected under IOSEA:

Signatory States

There are more than 30 signatory states that hold regular Meetings of the States.


The conservation of marine turtles is of the utmost importance not only based on their intrinsic value, but also based on their status as a keystone species on which we prioritize conservation efforts. The protection of marine turtle habitat provides protection for many other marine species as well.

Unfortunately, in the context of sustainable development, the conservation and management of marine turtles is challenging. Many communities throughout the world continue to use turtle meat and eggs as a source of protein and turtle shells for traditional crafts. To address these region-specific issues, the IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU effort was launched.

The MoU and associated Conservation and Management Plan were developed under a series of intergovernmental negotiation sessions held in Perth, Australia (October 1999), Kuantan, Malaysia (July 2000) and Manila, Philippines (June 2001).

The MoU came into effect on September 1, 2001 and remains open for signature indefinitely. The Signatory States held their first meeting in January 2003 and established a Regional Secretariat in April 2003.

The IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU Secretariat is located at the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand and operates under the auspices of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS or Bonn Convention). The CMS aims to conserve migratory species throughout their entire ranges. This convention and its subsidiary agreements are administered by UNEP.

The IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU implements a framework through which regional States and other concerned States can share the responsibility of protecting, conserving, and recovering depleted marine turtle populations.

The Agreement Area is divided into four sub-regions:

Conservation and Management Plan

A Conservation and Management Plan [pdf] was developed to achieve the IOSEA objectives. The plan applies to the waters and coastal States of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia and adjacent seas. The plan's objectives include:

Due to many other pressing development issues in the region, some countries lack the resources for successful implementation of the MoU. Therefore, through the MoU, these countries are offered support and capacity-building assistance. Success of any MoU activity is based on active contributions from a wide range of participants including all levels of government, non-governmental organizations, and civil society.

Updated: June 16, 2014