TropWATER’s Alumni Dr Hector Barrios-Garrido at the International Sea Turtle Society Symposium

The 39thedition of the International Sea Turtle Society Symposium (ISTS) just happened in Charleston, USA, gathering more than 800 attendees.

Dr Hector Barrios-Garrido is a TropWATER alumni now Associate Professor at the University of Zulia (Venezuela), founder-President of the Venezuelan NGO “Working Group on Marine Turtles of the Gulf of Venezuela”, and member of the Marine Turtle Specialist Group-International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN MTSG). The symposium was an opportunity for him to wear all these prestigious hats at once.

He gave two talks:

The first one entitled “Trade of Hawksbill turtle products in the Gulf of Venezuela” stemmed from his previous work at James Cook University and described the commerce of tortoiseshell and other marine turtle sub-products within the Guajira Peninsula (between Colombia and Venezuela). This type of commerce is illegal in both countries. Dr Barrios-Garrido says that: “Due to the critical social and economic conditions in the Venezuelan portion of the Peninsula (lack of medicines, goods, and food) it is now crucial to reassess at what level the illegal trafficking of terrestrial and aquatic bushmeat is occurring nowadays. Moreover, the implementation of an inter-institutional conservation-portfolio is needed“.

The second talk described the presence of marine turtles in the traditional pharmacopoeia of two Indigenous groups: the Wayuu from Venezuela, and the Ndowe (Kombes and Bengas) from Equatorial Guinea. This talk was an opportunity to address social and cultural aspects of the traditional values associated with marine turtles on both tropical countries.

The symposium also hosted an IUCN meeting of the marine turtle specialist group, which was a great opportunity for world’s specialists to draw the outline of regional reports that will be published by the end of this year. These regional reports summarise the current status of knowledge about the multiple populations of marine turtles worldwide. As a representative of the Caribbean and Western Atlantic regions, Dr Barrios-Garrido will be involved with other colleagues in the writing of this book, contributing a chapter from Venezuela which will cover updated data from five species of marine turtles that inhabit the Venezuelan waters.

Altogether, ISTS was an incredible gathering of global marine turtle experts. Dr Barrios-Garrido says that “It was a great opportunity to further evaluate the impact of natural and anthropogenic pressures on threatened turtle species, and discuss management conservation actions for the future. Furthermore, we need to understand how socio-economic factors can compromise government’s capacity to manage their natural resources, including marine turtles, especially among countries with depressed economies”.

He also says that he looks forward to joining the organising committee for the next iteration of the symposium which will be held in Cartagena (Colombia) in April-2020.

Read more about the symposium: click here

Read more about Dr Barrios-Garrido’s work: “Trade of Hawksbill turtle products in the Gulf of Venezuela”and “Marine Turtle Presence in the Traditional Pharmacopoeia, Cosmovision, and Beliefs of Wayuú Indigenous People

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