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Acropora palmata thicket on Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Andy Bruckner, 1996Coho salmon painting, Canadian Dept of Fisheries and OceansMonk seal, C.E. BowlbyHumpback whale, Dr. Lou Herman
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Indian Ocean - South-East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding (IOSEA)

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 marine 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 This link is an external site. of Wild Animals (Article IV, para. 4).

Six marine turtles are protected under IOSEA:

  1. Flatback turtle This link is an external site. (Natator depressus)
  2. Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  3. Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
  4. Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
  5. Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)
  6. Olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)

Signatory States

There are more than 30 signatory states This link is an external site.

Meetings of the Signatory States

  green turtle underwater
Green Turtle
(Chelonia mydas)
Photo: Douglas Shea This link is an external site.

hawksbill turtle underwater
Hawksbill Turtle
(Eretmochelys imbricata)
Photo: Michelle T. Scharer

kemp's ridley turtle hatchling in water
Kemp's Ridley Turtle
(Lepidochelys kempii)
Photo: Kim Bassos-Hull,
Mote Marine Laboratory

leatherback turtle at water's surface
Leatherback turtle
(Dermochelys coriacea)
Photo: Scott R. Benson, NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center

loggerhead turtle underwater
Loggerhead turtle
(Caretta caretta)
Photo: Marco Giuliano/ Fondazione Cetacea

olive ridley turtle underwater
Olive ridley turtle
(Lepidochelys olivacea)
Photo: Michael P. Jensen

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 covers 44 Range States and is divided into four sub-regions:

  1. South-East Asia and Australia
  2. Northern Indian Ocean
  3. Northwest Indian Ocean
  4. West Indian Ocean

Conservation and Management Plan
A Conservation and Management Plan This link is an external site. [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:

  1. Reduce direct and indirect causes of marine turtle mortality
  2. Protect, conserve and rehabilitate marine turtle habitats
  3. Improve understanding of marine turtle ecology and populations through research, monitoring and information exchange
  4. Increase public awareness of the threats to marine turtles and their habitats, and enhance public participation in conservation activities
  5. Enhance national, regional, and international cooperation
  6. Promote implementation of the MoU including the Conservation and Management Plan

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.

More Information

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