Via this project, the Marine Research Foundation conducted a training workshop to provide the Omani officials, researchers and field-rangers with the ability to monitor and carry out research on marine turtle stocks, whether resident or foraging, and their habitats. This project was implemented as a joint project between the Marine Research Foundation based in Sabah, Malaysia, and the Omani Ministry of Rural Municipalities, Environment and Water Resources (MRMEWR).
The principal objectives of the technical and policy training/capacity workshop were to strengthen and upgrade the capacity and capability for research education and conservation of marine turtles in Omani waters and on Oman’s beaches, to improve access to current knowledge and experience, and to increase institutional cooperation between national partners and international development organizations involved in research and conservation of marine turtles.
The northwestern Indian Ocean region is a critical habitat for sea turtles. Five species of sea turtles are known to exist in the Region, namely the green turtle (Chelonia mydas); hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata); Olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea); loggerhead (Caretta caretta); and the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea).
Oman’s Loggerhead turtle population on Masirah Island is arguably the largest in the world, and is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. At Ras Al-Hadd and Ras Al-Jinz, Oman’s coast hosts the region’s largest aggregation of nesting green turtles (IUCN Red List Status: Endangered). At an IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group meeting in Shepherdstown, WV in 2004, the Oman loggerhead population was acknowledged as the largest in the world and among the top ten priorities for marine turtle conservation on a global scale. A fact-finding mission in June 2004 comprising three MTSG members identified the lack of material resources and standardized methodology as being among the most limiting for the Omani officials and rangers in their efforts to implement accurate population assessments, deter poaching, and rescue of stray turtles which would otherwise perish in the desert heat. Subsequent to that, in 2005, the same MTSG team met with Omani rangers and officials who expressed that there was a clear need for a training workshop to highlight the current state of knowledge on turtle biology and conservation and management measures and options, which would be used to modify and strengthen current activities for the benefit of the turtles nesting in Oman.
The workshop trained staff from the Ministry of Rural Municipalities, Environment and Water Resources (MRMEWR). The attendees comprised rangers from both Masirah island and Ras Al-Hadd, Ministry officials, and researchers from the Sultan Qaboos University and other interested parties. The technical training/capacity building workshop was run over two days and outlined general marine turtle biology, life cycles, life stage conservation requirements, conservation measures, statistical analysis and management protocols. The workshop also covered international agreements, existing and under-development international agreements to which Oman is a party, and methods of fulfilling the commitments under these legal instruments.
This project was funded by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.