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Scientist Receives NOAA Fisheries "Species in the Spotlight" Hero Award for Pacific Leatherback Conservation


Jakarta, Indonesia -- July 13, 2017

Dr. Fitry Pakiding receives a Species in the Spotlight hero award for Pacific leatherback conservation work.

Fitry Pakiding (third from right in back row) organized a meeting with the local communities to evaluate the leatherback project’s community-based program.

The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta hosted Dr. Manjula Tiwari, of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and Dr. Fitry Pakiding, of the State University of Papua (UNIPA), at the @America Cultural Center for a discussion on the importance of Pacific leatherback conservation

With a near 80 percent decline in the nesting population of Western Pacific leatherbacks, raising awareness about the need for conservation is critical.  Dr. Tiwari and Dr. Pakiding spoke about balancing Pacific leatherback sea turtles and local communities in Papua Barat. Numerous university students attended the talk and stayed after the event to ask questions.

During the event, Mr. Jai Nair (First Secretary, Economic Section, in the Environment, Science, Technology and Health Unit at the embassy) presented Dr. Pakiding with a NOAA Fisheries Species in the Spotlight hero award. Dr. Pakiding has been the heart and soul of the UNIPA leatherback conservation project in recent years. She accepted the award on behalf of all those at UNIPA working to recover Pacific leatherbacks.

UNIPA has been engaged for more than 10 years in recovering the largest remaining leatherback nesting population in the Western Pacific. UNIPA has been an essential partner for implementing NOAA's Species in the Spotlight Action Plan for Pacific Leatherbacks. UNIPA researchers and students, and their international collaborators, have been working to establish a science-based management plan that minimizes nest failure and promotes hatchling production. UNIPA has also worked with communities and local partners, including the Tambrauw government, to gain support and trust, and to engage them as stakeholders in implementing priority conservation actions.

Dr. Pakiding has been integral to the success of the UNIPA project. Her devotion to the conservation of this leatherback population and her willingness to overcome numerous challenges have energized leatherback conservation efforts in Papua Barat.  The challenges on the ground are many, but the UNIPA leatherback project continues undaunted.