Entreprenuerism, the opportunity to improve the quality of life of a community

Responsible and sustainable fishing has become one of the principle bastions of improved livelihoods for the members of the Association of Sea Turtle Collectors and Fishermen of Cangrajera Beach, Atoplopc, since FIAES introduced an incentive based compensation program for work done towards sustainable living and environmental practices within the coastal marine management and conservation program in Los Pinos Beach.

Atoplopc president, José Carlos Franco Portillo, believes that the project has changed the lives of fishermen and turtle egg collectors in the community. He stated, “The support from FIAES has made it possible for us collect sea turtle eggs for incubation, and the new motor boad and fishing nets will help us improve our fishing habits and productivity.”

During the FIAES-Atoplopc project, 30 sea turtle egg collectors were trained in sustainable fishing practices. FIAES supported the legal organization of the group, helping them to conform as a new fishing cooperative named Achíquiles de R.L. As a complement to this process FIAES provided the new cooperative with a motorboat and new fishing implements to promote sustainable fishing practices.

The project also assisted a group of ten women from Los Pinos Congrejera establish a community bakery. All the participants were trained in baking French bread and sweet breads.

A key objective of the project was to increase awareness of the importance of sea turtle conservation. This objective was met through the realization of 85 events, including sea turtle hatchling liberation events, informative discussions and beach clean-up brigades with various local actors and visitors. In addition, 180 students from 3 different area schools participated in environmental education classes.

According to the FIAES-Atoplopc technician, Carmen Elena Soriano, the community constructed a sea turtle nursery for the incubation of eggs. During the project 96,411 sea turtle eggs were collected, transplanted and incubated in this nursery. Eggs collected for incubation were from nests of the following species, 2 nests of the “Black Sea Turtle” Chelonia mydas agassizzi known locally as the tortuga prieta, 3 nests of the “Leatherback” Dermochelys coriacea, known locally as the tortuga baule and 1,334 nests of “Olive Ridley” Lepidochelys olivacea the known locally as de tortuga golfina.

The following numbers reflect the numbers of eggs collected and hatchlings released per species: <br> • Chelonia mydas agassizzi -140 eggs incubated and 127 hatchlings released. <br/> • Dermochelys coriacea-266 eggs incubated, 135 hatchlings released. <br> • Lepidochelys olivacea-estimated 72,500 hatchlings released.

The community’s entrepreneurial focus has opened new pathways for success, improving family incomes and the general quality of life in the community.

Digital communication has had an important role in the development of this project. Social media has been an effective platform for creating new contacts and idea sharing. Innovative use of this tool has resulted in the formation of alliances and the participation of a wide variety of actors in environmental conservation including private beach clubs and businesses, embassies and municipality of La Libertad, among others.