Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences Hosts National Sea Turtle Conference to Promote Conservation Efforts

The Department of Marine and Fisheries Science at the University of Ghana recently played host to the second edition of the Ghana National Sea Turtle Conference.

The two-day event, held under the theme "Enhancing Collaborative Efforts for Sea Turtle Conservation in Ghana," saw a gathering of marine scientists, wildlife enthusiasts, NGOs and government agencies coming together to deliberate on strategies for the continued survival of sea turtles in the region.

During the opening day, Dr. Benjamin Botwe, the Head of the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, highlighted the conference's role as a collaborative platform for stakeholders to address critical issues concerning sea turtle conservation.

He noted, "I believe that this conference under the theme 'Enhancing Collaborative Efforts for Sea Turtle Conservation in Ghana' has brought together senior and early career scientists, researchers, students, industry professionals, policymakers and other experts to exchange perspectives, knowledge, ideas, best practices and innovative solutions to the challenges facing sea turtle protection and conservation in Ghana."

Dr. Botwe underscored the importance of safeguarding sea turtles, describing them as "remarkable creatures", while pointing out their economic value.

He stated, "Sea turtles are one of many fascinating creatures on earth. They inhabit nearly all ocean basins except Polar Regions and can migrate across these basins for feeding. They often nest on tropical and sub-tropical beaches, holding immense ecological, cultural, and economic value."

However, Dr. Botwe expressed concern about the numerous threats facing sea turtles, including "harmful fishing practices, pollution, habitat degradation, and predation by humans and other animals." He stressed the urgency of local and global action to combat harmful fishing practices that currently pose a threat to their existence as a way of protecting these sea creatures.

Prof. Francis Gbogbo, Head of the Department of Animal Biology and Conservation Science, representing the Dean of the School of Biological Sciences, Prof. Augustine Ocloo, highlighted the ocean's importance for humankind and nature.

He further emphasised the need for proper conversations to ensure the protection of all species in the ocean, particularly sea turtles. “The Ocean plays a crucial role in human existence as it provides food, livelihood and other important benefits such as climate control. It is, therefore, important to give the ocean the attention it deserves with a particular focus on its health,” Prof. Francis Gbogbo encouraged.

Touching on the theme for this conference, Prof. Gbogbo reiterated its appropriateness, stating, "enhancing collaborative efforts for sea turtle conservation in Ghana is  appropriate and timely. We must protect the ocean's health and save sea turtles and other organisms from depletion and their conservation."

He concluded by calling for comprehensive and effective measures to address the challenges faced by sea turtles, emphasising the importance of fostering collaborations and linkages among institutions concerned with sea turtle conservation in Ghana and around the world.

Participants in the conference included staff and faculty from the  Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, representatives from the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, and various partners and sponsors of the event.