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ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations. Decree No. Supreme Decree No. Act No.

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Metrics details. Marine turtles play an important role in the culture and economy of numerous coastal communities around the world. However, the legal framework that regulates the consumptive use of these reptiles varies among countries. For example, the consumption of these reptiles has been regarded as common in several rural areas of Venezuela, especially in the eastern coast of the Guajira Peninsula.

To assess the scale and cultural component of this use, we interviewed 35 residents from the southwestern coast of the Gulf of Venezuela Venezuelan part of the Guajira Peninsula , using a combination of in-depth and semi-structured interviews. We carried out a field and detailed market-based observations on the Guajira Peninsula to detect the sale and use of marine turtle products. We focused on three main categories of use; the type of product, routes of trade, and the price of products.

All of the marine turtle species reported from the Gulf of Venezuela were used, and the prices of products varied among their type, species of origin, and the distance from the capture area to a marketplace. It is probable that trade of marine turtle products is placing pressure on populations in the Gulf of Venezuela.

We recommend the implementation of an inter-institutional conservation-portfolio be developed for the Peninsula to evaluate actions related to this concern.

Marine turtles are exposed to multiple, and cumulative threats throughout their lives, and the extent to which species are exposed differ Wallace et al. One well-documented threat is the capture for the intent of consumption, either as a result of incidental bycatch or intentional take.

Consumptive use of marine turtles, especially illegal retention and use of these species is often linked to artisanal fisheries occurring in developing tropical countries Buitrago et al.

However, in-depth investigations on this topic tend to be complicated due to the often clandestine nature of turtle fisheries Mancini and Koch In general, the data on this human-turtle interaction is lacking in the literature Hamann et al.

For thousands of years marine turtles have played an important role in many cultures around the world Antczak et al. Yet over the past few hundred years many populations have been exposed to some degree of systematic commercial use Lagueux et al.

The scale, and impact of commercial use varied considerably and some populations were exposed to pervasive pressure that lasted many decades and caused declines in population sizes. In recent decades marine turtles have been afforded stronger conservation and protection at international e. CITES and national e. The rise in the number of conservation and policy instruments protecting turtles has essentially meant that there are now fewer commercial markets Humber et al. However, marine turtles are still subject to use in some places of the world.

For example they are used legally by some Indigenous cultures for traditional rites, culture and trade Fleming ; Frazier In the majority of countries in the Caribbean the consumptive use of marine turtles as classed as illegal by national Government legislation Humber et al. For example, Venezuela, which, as a signatory state of several international treaties that protect marine turtles, has developed national laws and presidential decrees to protect marine turtles from consumptive use Venezuela ; Venezuela a , b , c.

Further, the development of management strategies or the enforcement of legislation is especially challenging when the protective status of the species or the legislation regarding threats such as consumption are not clear Richardson et al.

For example, in the Caribbean waters of Nicaragua the consumptive use of marine turtle is considered legal but it is regulated by conditions dealing with ethnicity, turtle size, and species. Yet in reality, fishers do not always follow these rules when landing catches of marine turtles in the artisanal ports of this region Lagueux et al. As a result, the boundary between illegal and legal tends to be clouded.

However, the policy and legal situation is complex. This legislation states that the Venezuelan Indigenous people have rights to use the regions natural resources, especially resources occurring within the ancestral territories Venezuela In addition, there is an International treaty signed and ratified by the Venezuela Government to protect the traditional use of natural resources within Venezuela Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention ILO Apaalanchis reside along the coast and depend on coastal resources for their livelihoods.

As a result, artisanal fishing is the most common economic activity in the region, and it is well established in the La Guajira Peninsula especially in the Venezuelan part of it. However, transcultural aspects have modified the needs of Venezuelan Indigenous communities, leading to the inclusion of a commercial component into their local economy and livelihood Castellano-Gil and Barrios-Garrido ; Robles Hence, pervasive commercial use, or use not managed by community-based programs could compromise the status of marine turtle species within Venezuelan waters Barrios-Garrido and Montiel-Villalobos This number, plus the to green turtles captured annually and reported by Rueda-Almonacid et al.

It is important to recognise that these numbers were calculated only for green turtles captured and did not include annual estimations for any other species of turtle. However, while use appears to be widespread throughout the coastal areas of the Gulf of Venezuela the differentiation between the traditional use and illegal trade remains a challenge to understand and regulate.

The aim of this paper is to assess the scale and magnitude and cultural component of this use on the southwestern coast of the Gulf of Venezuela Venezuelan portion of the Guajira Peninsula , including some references to the legislation conflict among the national laws environmental, cultural and social and international treaties.

The selected ports and public markets were located along the southwestern coast of the Gulf of Venezuela GV , from Castilletes Geographical location of the study area and the relative position of the study area in the Caribbean Sea insert.

Red polygon represents the areas where we found the marine turtle products. Double line arrow represents the direction of trade by wholesalers or transporters towards secondary sellers or business holders, the latter are represent by red dots in Colombia: Maicao and Riohacha, and in Venezuela: Paraguaipoa.

Dashed arrows represent the general route used by secondary sellers or transporters. Crossed arrows represent the general routes used to send the products into San Cristobal, Merida, and Lara states in Venezuela.

Studies within the last decade have confirmed the presence of five marine turtle species in GV region of Venezuela Barrios-Garrido ; Montiel-Villalobos ; Parra ; Chelonia mydas green turtle , Eretmochelys imbricata hawksbill turtle , Caretta caretta loggerhead turtle , Dermochelys coriacea leatherback turtle and Lepidochelys olivacea olive ridley turtle. Our data included semi-structured in-depth interviews open-ended , preliminary observations and informal interviews, plus our own systematic observations in the markets and trading centres of Venezuelan portion of the Guajira Peninsula.

The interviewees key-informants were fishers, transporters, wholesalers, business holders restaurant and non-restaurant owners, and artisans , and buyers. All the in-depth interviews were conducted in private locations, within the localities listed in Fig.

To analyse the qualitative data we extracted common themes about: trade, traditional use, and anecdotic information related to marine turtles. We focussed on collecting data under three main themes: a trade relates to the movement of the product such as capture and market locations, trade routes, and price of marine turtle products ; b traditional use non-commercial exchange of marine turtle products between families and clans ; c anecdotic information about marine turtles Tambiah Appendix.

When it was possible in the markets and trade centres, we photographed the turtles and products on sale after seeking the oral permission from the people involved Figs. We defined trade or commercial use as the exchange of marine turtle products and secondary-products for money; this action involves a seller, sometimes a dealer or transporter, and a buyer.

We included Colombian localities Maicao and Riohacha in the Fig. Photography: H. Roosters spurs made from hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata scutes. Leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea oil bottled to be sold or exchanged between families. On those places we collected the information regarding prices. We interviewed 35 people 26 between July and August , and nine between November and November Seventeen of them were categorised as fishers and could be turtle-hunters or casual turtle catchers, only seven of 17 fishers had the capacity to store products refrigerator system.

Nine of the 35 were classed as wholesaler or transporter. Five were classed as business owners or secondary sellers, and four were classed as final buyers of the product. All 35 provided data regarding the use of marine turtle that occurs in the area.

We also confirmed the variation in the prices in relation to the ethnicity of the buyers difference in the prices provided to JP and the rest of the team members. Also, among the potential marine turtle products we found were products with commercial value such as meat and guts from green and hawksbill turtles Fig. We received no information about the use of Lepidochelys olivacea.

Our data from market observations plus responses from interviewees affirm that the green turtle is the most common species involved in the trade. The most common products generated from green turtles are the meat and guts, which are sold in public markets, restaurants, and are sometimes transported out of the Zulia state limits towards other Venezuelan states, or into Colombian towns.

The asking prices for green turtles varied according to the size of the animal. Although meat from hawksbill turtles was also found in markets, the most profitable products extracted from this species are the carapace and its scutes.

While we did observe loggerhead turtle products in the markets, it was not common, probably because when it is available it is more commonly shared between families. Indeed, our respondents affirm that its taste is too fishy to be attractive to buyers.

Our respondents affirmed that this variation in price also fluctuates in relation to the difficulty associated with accessing animals season, presence of army patrols, and frequency of the species. We typically found lower prices in remote localities for example from Castilletes to Neima where most buyers were Indigenous and likely had lower incomes.

This is in contrast to the higher prices sometimes up to five times that we found in localities where mestizos non-Indigenous customers were reported to purchase products for example from Paraguaipoa to Maracaibo. We found that juvenile and adult turtles were used commercially, were sold both dead and alive, and the prices varied according to the size of the turtles. We also found that the prices varied among years, localities, product, and trade centre. We noted that the high demand for marine turtle products is not only driven by the needs of Indigenous local communities.

In addition, three of the four buyers we interviewed were non-Indigenous people. Thirty three of our respondents also provided information indicating that marine turtle products originating from Venezuela are being sent across the border into Colombia. The most common Colombian destinations are Riohacha and Maicao, which are cities lying adjacent to the Gulf of Venezuela and within the Colombian Guajira Peninsula Fig. Of 35 interviewees, 21 Indigenous people believed there should be special exception to the marine turtle protection laws because of their traditional ancestry and the desire to maintain cultural-based use of the marine turtles.

This the use of turtle for us Wayuu should be legal, because is part of our culture. Although, we found that the trade of products of green turtle, hawksbill, and leatherback turtle is still occurring in the area. We did not collect data on other social and economic aspects of the trade for these trips. Our results demonstrate that at least four species of marine turtle in Venezuela are subjected to use and trade, and their prices and value to the community are strongly influenced by culture, origin, species, product, quantity and demand and ethnicity from buyers.

We found the most commonly traded species is the green turtle; however, the most expensive products were derived from the hawksbill turtle. Hawksbill turtle products were more expensive than products derived from the other species and this scenario is similar to those identified by Rueda-Almonacid et al.

It is possible that the species based differences could be related to the lower relative abundance to green turtles in our study area or more broadly in the Caribbean Campbell , or reflect the availability of preferred habitat types for the two species Buitrago and Guada ; Parra Our data demonstrate that despite use being illegal, the consumption of marine turtles is common and occurs without evidence of regulation or enforcement in the Guajira Peninsula. Hence, many of the products consumed have a significant traditional value Villate However, there is now a commercial component to the trade Robles Given the commercial nature of the trade, plus the existence of commercial marine turtle use in nearby country and cities Amorocho ; Colombia It is necessary to improve our knowledge of how the trade may impact local and regional marine turtle populations number of animals traded, species, and lack of enforcement.

Thirty-two of the 35 interviewees stated that despite the cultural connections, it was the positive difference in monetary exchange rates when trading between the Colombian and Venezuelan currency that underpinned their part of the trade of marine turtles over the border.

Similarly, we presume, based on our data, that it is the potentially high profit margins that drive fishers to sell hawksbill scutes handcrafted or not to Colombian localities, or even to other international destinations, such as Panama.

Interestingly, this monetary exchange rate was the opposite in the s and s Rueda-Almonacid et al. During this timeframe communities and patterns of use could change.

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