For more than 100 million years turtles have covered vast distances across the world’s oceans, filling a vital role in the balance of marine habitats. Human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear. Climate change has also an impact on nesting sites; it alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered.
Located in southeast Brazil, Port of Açu is situated in a priority turtle nesting area and is committed to the protection of these species, working to ensure a safe port environment. Since 2008, the port administration coordinates the Sea Turtle Conservation Program, which aims to protect, monitor, and research sea turtles that use the region for breeding and spawning. The program is divided into 3 lines of action: sustainable port operations; monitoring and protection of coastal environments and community outreach and scientific research.
In 2021, the program reached the important milestone of 1 million sea turtle hatchlings released to the sea, a relevant contribution to the conservation of these species. The program has carried out over 65 releasing actions as part of community engagement efforts. The program launched a new protocol for maintenance dredging consolidating best international practices. The protocol counts on the contribution of international specialists and reflects the state-of-the art in terms of reconciling dredging activities and sea turtle protection, being an important tool for new port developments and benchmark with other ports around the world.
The Sea Turtle Conservation Program aims to leave a legacy for the world, showing that it is possible to develop port operations in a sustainable manner.