For over 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 to over-exploitation, as well as 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 and sustainable 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 feeding and nesting. 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 species management and conservation. During this period, over 65 releasing and educational activities reached more than 7,500 people as part of local community engagement. Also in 2021 the program launched a new protocol for dredging projects consolidating best international practices and reflecting the state-of-the art in terms of reconciling operational needs and sea turtle protection, being an important tool for new developments and benchmark with other ports.
The program aims to leave a legacy for the world showing that it is possible to develop port operations in a sustainable manner providing educational outreach and positive impacts on the environment.