Last week, the community of Montecristo celebrated completing the first phase of the “Quelonia” project, named after the Spanish classification for turtles and spearheaded by FIAES. During the peak of sea turtle season (August-January), community members incubated 125,000 eggs in the community run hatchery and released a total of 100,000 baby sea turtles, surpassing its goal for 100,000 eggs incubated and 80,000 turtles released. Congratulations to the community of Montecristo and all of the actors involved!
At the celebration, Congresswoman Estela Hernandez spoke to the community, congratulating them on the success of their project promoting sea turtles conservation and sustainable income generating activities such as community-led tourism, local fisheries and entrepreneurial opportunities for women.
20% of the project budget came from community participation, through money raised and in-kind donations of labor and support.
Fishers participated in workshops on sustainable practices and permissible nets. The project further supplied the community fishers with 14 nets, 4 motors, and 9 kayaks.
90 local fishers were trained to be tortugeros, monitoring the beach for nesting turtles and safely relocating the nests to the hatchery, keeping the eggs out of reach of predators. Students and community members took part in sea turtle releases as part of community education and outreach.
Local leaders supported a community tourism plan, updating maps and planned tour guide trainings. The turtle conservation program and newly completed bakery also form integral parts of the plan.
The project further supported the launching of a community bakery run by 13 women as a means to support economic alternatives and community tourism.