Principal researchers

Professor Brendan Godley

Dr Jeffrey Mangel

Dr Joanna Alfaro Shigueto

Grants and funding

Darwin initiative grant from the UK government: £188,353 awarded in 2014

Key publications

Mangel, Jeffrey, Godley, Brendan, et al. "Reducing green turtle bycatch in small-scale fisheries using illuminated gillnets: The Cost of Saving a Sea Turtle" (2016), Marine Ecology Progress Series

Godley, Brendan, Broderick, Annette, et al. "Shelf life: Neritic habitat use of a turtle population highly threatened by fisheries" (2016) Diversity and Distributions 

Mangel, Jeffrey, Godley, Brendan, et al. "Small-scale fisheries of Peru: a major sink for marine turtles in the Pacific" (2011), Journal of Applied Ecology

Darwin Sustainable Artisanal Fisheries Initiative - Working with fisheries in Peru

Researchers from Penryn Campus’ Centre for Ecology and Conservation are working with fishing communities and conservation organisations in Peru to promote sustainable fishing and the conservation of marine biodiversity, including seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles.

Biosciences researchers Dr Brendan Godley and Dr Jeffrey Mangel are collaborating with fishing communities, Peruvian conservation organisation Pro Delphinus and the Peruvian government to give fishers the training, equipment, and expert oversight necessary to fish sustainably.

Coordinated by DEFRA and funded by a £188,353 Darwin Initiative grant from the UK government, the Darwin Sustainable Artisinal Fisheries Initiative aims to simultaneously decrease ‘bycatch’ – when marine animals are caught unintentionally by fisheries – and create a marketplace for sustainably fished products, to encourage more fisheries to participate.

Fishing is a growing industry in Peru and the industry is an increasingly important employer in the country, with nearly 10,000 fishing vessels and 37,000 people working in fisheries. The project builds on previous research which suggested that changes to fishing practices, such as introducing circle hooks and dehookers to line fishing and using net illumination, could help reduce sea turtle bycatch.

We have known for a long time that, along with sharks, marine mammals and seabirds, marine turtles often become bycatch as a result of large-scale fishing. However, we were very surprised when our study revealed just how large an impact small-scale fisheries have on sea turtles.

Brendan Godley, Professor of Conservation Science and Director of the Centre for Ecology & Conservation

Alongside helping artisanal fishers to access marketplaces such as restaurants and dealers, the Darwin Initiative is carrying out ongoing research and surveys to moderate animals at sea and on land.

Together with Pro Delphinus the researchers are coordinating a programme of outreach and education to raise awareness of the role turtles and marine mammals play in their ecosystems, and the importance of conserving them.

The initiative aims to help Peru meet its obligations under international conservation treaties, and the researchers hope their system could serve as a model for other small-scale fisheries in Peru and throughout the developing world.

The Pacific waters around Peru are important foraging areas for five species of marine turtle: loggerhead, green, leatherback, olive ridley and hawksbill. Research led by the team and published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology has shown that tens of thousands of turtles from across the Pacific are being captured through the activities of small-scale fisheries.

Senior author Brendan Godley said: “We have known for a long time that, along with sharks, marine mammals and seabirds, marine turtles often become bycatch as a result of large-scale fishing. However, we were very surprised when our study revealed just how large an impact small-scale fisheries have on sea turtles.”