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 of Wild Animals (Article IV, para. 4).
Six marine turtles are protected under IOSEA:
- Flatback turtle (Natator depressus)
- Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
- Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
- Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
- Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)
- Olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
There are more than 30 signatory states
- January 2012 - Bangkok, Thailand
- August 2008 - Bali, Indonesia
- March 2006 - Muscat, Oman
- March 2005 - Bangkok, Thailand
- March 2004 - Bangkok, Thailand
- January 2003 - Bangkok, Thailand
Photo: Douglas Shea
Photo: Michelle T. Scharer
Kemp's Ridley Turtle
Photo: Kim Bassos-Hull,
Mote Marine Laboratory
Photo: Scott R. Benson, NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Photo: Marco Giuliano/ Fondazione Cetacea
Olive ridley turtle
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:
- South-East Asia and Australia
- Northern Indian Ocean
- Northwest Indian Ocean
- West Indian Ocean
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:
- Reduce direct and indirect causes of marine turtle mortality
- Protect, conserve and rehabilitate marine turtle habitats
- Improve understanding of marine turtle ecology and populations through research, monitoring and information exchange
- Increase public awareness of the threats to marine turtles and their habitats, and enhance public participation in conservation activities
- Enhance national, regional, and international cooperation
- 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.