Exploitation of marine turtles in the Indian Ocean

Marine turtles long have been of great value to peoples of the Indian Ocean, nutritionally, economically, and culturally. Once directed primarily toward subsistence, the hunting of marine turtles for international trade has increased; today their populations are often so depleted that they are not only insignificant as resources, but are endangered. An understanding of exploitation is imperative to guarantee future populations, yet available information is sketchy. _Subsistence hunting? is an ambiguous term, since the most intense exploitation is for export. Historically this has involved Chelonia and Eretmochelys, whose populations are now much reduced. Yet, newly _discovered? populations (Lepidochelys especially) are being exploited, under the stimulus of new foreign markets (e.g., leather), and their fates seem even less hopeful than those of long-exploited populations. Moreover _subsistence hunting? for immediate local consumption has led to depletion of nesting and feeding populations of turtles in areas where protein sources are in great demand and human population densities high. Neither the future nor the solution to this dilemma is clear, but it is obvious that economic considerations must be carefully considered, and ecological arguments alone are insufficient to manage these resources.
Frazier J .
turtles, marine turtles, Indian Ocean, subsistence hunting, exploitation