Using expert opinion to identify and determine the relative impact of threats to sea turtles in Mozambique

Williams, Jessica L., Pierce, Simon J., Hamann, Mark, and Fuentes, Mariana M.B.P. (2019) Using expert opinion to identify and determine the relative impact of threats to sea turtles in Mozambique. Aquatic Conservation: marine and freshwater ecosystems, 29 (11). pp. 1936-1948.

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Although robust and consistent long-term datasets are lacking, it is commonly accepted that sea turtle populations face significant human threats while using Mozambique's coastal habitats. While multiple threats have been identified, their relative impact - and thus the ability to prioritize limited conservation resources - is poorly known. To obtain a better understanding of these threats, information from experts was elicited through a semi-structured survey using open and closed-ended questions. Experts in research, conservation and management of sea turtles were identified and asked to identify key threats and to complete pairwise comparison matrixes to determine the relative weight (w) of each threat (13 criterion, n = 24 questions). Weights for the perceived impact of threats were calculated from scores given in the pair-wise matrix using the analytic hierarchy process. Responses (n = 18) to open-ended survey questions were thematically coded and discussed according to common themes (e.g. extent of knowledge, limitations, conservation management tools) identified. Bycatch from commercial trawling (w = 13.65), artisanal fishing (w = 12.30) and hunting of nesting turtles (w = 11.33) were the top threats identified, in order of relative impact. While two of the three top threats are widely distributed and likely to be logistically and resource intensive to address, the top-scoring threat, 'bycatch from commercial trawling', is a clearly defined target for conservation intervention. Given a lack of baseline or published data, soliciting expert opinion was an efficient way to identify emergent threats, along with the success and limiting factors influencing sea turtle conservation in a developing nation. The methodology and technique implemented here are transferable. Expert surveys can provide valuable insights in locations with similar socio-economic environments and limited empirical data to help clarify the relative impact of various threats.

Item ID: 60055
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1099-0755
Keywords: coastal, conservation evaluation, endangered species, fishing, gap analysis, ocean, reptiles
Copyright Information: © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2019 07:43
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410407 Wildlife and habitat management @ 100%
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