ARCAS will hire local guides (the majority ex-poachers), conduct educational activities and purchase nests with the goal of incubating at least 30,000 olive ridley, green and leatherback sea turtle eggs in the Hawaii and El Rosario hatcheries on the Pacific coast of Guatemala. The project will contribute to the conservation of these endangered species while also contributing to the sustainable livelihoods of low-income local residents.
Sea turtle eggs are a traditional sources of protein and income for impoverished residents of the Pacific coast of Guatemala. Under a government-sponsored scheme, local egg collectors are allowed to harvest olive ridley nests (only olive ridleys) as long as 20% of each nest is donated to a local hatchery. However, it is not clear that this conservation cuota system is sustainable in the long term, and the eggs of the highly endangered leatherback and green sea turtles continue to be harvested.
This project will sponsor beach patrols and sponsor nests to increase the numbers of sea turtle eggs rescued at the Hawaii Hatchery on the Pacific coast of Guatemala. The goal is to collect 30,000 eggs, and combined with eggs from the 20% donation and other counterpart donations, we hope to incubate a total of 100,000 eggs in 2019. Egg-collection activities are combined with environmental education, ecotourism, gender, health and other sustainable community development projects.
In 2016, ARCAS succeeded in having Hawaii declared a marine protected area. The long-term impact of these project activities lie in working with local communities to sustainably manage the natural resources that serve as the basis for the local subsistence economy. Tourism is growing rapidly in the area, and if managed correctly offers a sustainable alternative to extractive practices of the past. Local residents need training and support in successfully transitioning to this new economy.