“Protection of sea turtles is not a parochial problem. They cannot be saved in any one place, or by controlling any one phase of the life cycle. No local closed season or size limits or seasonal quotas set in one place can possibly maintain turtle populations if egg harvests are being levied at the various unknown places from which the turtles of a given foraging range are derived. I used to believe that the green turtle would not be threatened by the fishermen who net and harpoon them. It seemed to me that effective protection of the nesting colony alone would save the species. I no longer believe this. It is now clear that people are so abundant, and the life cycle of a sea turtle is so complicated, that nobody really knows what he is doing to a population when he kills a turtle or takes the eggs from a nest. The capacity of people to consume and their ability to destroy are growing beyond the tolerance of the small populations in which sea turtles live. If a carefully planned, comprehensive strategy were worked out, sea turtles could no doubt be permanently saved; and the green turtle certainly could be made an important link with the vast production potential of the sea. Without such a strategy, however, we are likely to lose some of the species completely before much more time goes by.”
Archie Carr (1967) The Sea Turtle: So Excellent a Fishe.
University of Texas Press: Austin, Texas.
Today, more than four decades after Dr. Archie Carr penned those wise words, the struggle to design and implement a “carefully planned, comprehensive strategy” continues. Unilateral action by interested governments has been the historical norm but national laws, while they offer some degree of protection in specific areas of jurisdiction, do not protect turtles while they are in international waters or in the waters of another sovereign power. Sea turtles do not recognize national or geopolitical boundaries. Those that feed in one nation’s waters will one day nest on another nation’s beaches. Furthermore, they may travel through waters under many different jurisdictions during their journeys between nesting and foraging grounds.
WIDECAST is uniquely designed to move the region beyond its historical pattern of unilateral management of shared sea turtle stocks. Although one nation may seek to protect “its” turtles during specified seasons and/or by imposing limits on the size or number of individuals taken … neighboring or even quite distant nations may allow “their” turtles to be heavily exploited. Restrictions are rarely enforced, and even if each exploiting nation enforced what it believed to be a reasonable quota in local waters, the combined quotas may impose unbearable stress on a population. Once the turtles are gone, each country will have lost both a valuable economic (and ecological) resource.
WIDECAST members are keenly aware that without networking — without laboring to maintain partnerships and working together to achieve shared objectives within the context of local socio-political realities – little can be achieved regarding a sustainable future for sea turtles or for Caribbean peoples. And so we come together to visualize a future where thriving populations of sea turtles survive as functioning components of the Caribbean ecosystem and economy. We come together because there is more to unite us, than to divide us. We come together because sea turtles have brought us to this place, and because their survival – and ours – demands it.
A network is non-hierarchical. It is a web of connections among equals. What holds it together is not force, obligation, material incentive, or social contract, but rather shared values and the understanding that some tasks can be accomplished together that could never be accomplished separately. One of the important purposes of a network is simply to remind its members that they are not alone.
Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, and Jørgen Randers (1992)
Beyond the Limits. Chelsea Green Publishing: Post Mills, Vermont.