Volume 59

A Contribution to the History of Marine Turtles Exploitation in Venezuela

Antczak, A., Buitrago, J. Mackowiak De Antczak, M.M., Guada, H.J
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Date: November, 2006

Pages: 63-74

Event: Proceedings of the Fifty Nine Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Belize City

Country: Belize


The marine turtle populations in Venezuela have been systematically declining since the 16th century, following the trend otherwise reported for other areas in the Caribbean. Turtle remains recovered in the pre-Hispanic archaeological sites are not as abundant as it might have been expected, even areas of recognised natural abundance of these animals such as the offshore islands. The reason of this scarcity is not clear and can be attributed to the recovery or preservation bias and/or to the operation of ancient taboos among other possible explanations. The ethnohistoric and other documentary sources testify that turtles were systematically exploited for eggs, meat, oil and carapace in all areas of their natural distribution, during the colonial (16th – 18th century) and republican (19th century) times. The nesting beaches located on the offshore islands (Isla de Aves, Los Roques Archipelago and Margarita Island), and on the eastern continental coast, were especially targeted. The 20th century brought the unprecedented intensification of the fishery and loss of natural habitats, principally the nesting beaches. Today, despite the ban imposed on turtle fishery and the conservation efforts coordinated by both governmental and non-governmental agencies, there are no signs of recovery of turtle populations in the country.

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