Home Institution

University of Colorado at Boulder

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Nicaragua: Revolution, Transformation, and Civil Society


The sea turtle populations on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua have dramatically decreased as a result of human use and consumption. All species of sea turtles are endangered and at risk of extinction. This is an environmental issue because if sea turtles go extinct, many other plants and animals in marine ecosystems will be negatively impacted by this loss, and the environment will be drastically altered. This is also problematic for locals who depend on this resource for food and as a source of income. Conservation efforts have been initiated by an international NGO, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS); however, many local communities traditionally harvest and consume sea turtles, specifically green turtles. This creates a complex issue in that conservation efforts must seek to save the turtle population while respecting cultural traditions. Thus, this intersection of culture and conservation makes it challenging to effectively regulate the conservation of sea turtles in the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.

This investigation is focused on assessing the conservation ethics of green turtle fishermen in the Pearl Lagoon Basin in the Southern Autonomous Atlantic Region (RAAS) of Nicaragua. Do sea turtle fishermen in the communities of the Pearl Lagoon Basin have conservation ethics? If so, what do these conservation ethics consist of? I interviewed 25 sea turtle fishermen from different communities in the Pearl Lagoon Basin to investigate if they have conservation ethics. More specifically, I investigated if they are solely concerned with the economic, human-use value of green turtles for consumption and income, or if they value sea turtles for their environmental, aesthetic, and intrinsic nonuse values. If turtle fishermen do not have conservation ethics, conservation efforts may not be able to move forward. Furthermore, failure to manage and conserve sea turtles will negatively impact the environment, as well as local communities who depend on this resource for a source of food and income.


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Natural Resources and Conservation | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


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