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No hunting agreement from local fishermen helps protect the world’s rarest turtle

On the 15th of June 2015 the annual meeting was held for local fishermen around Dong Mo Lake in the outskirts of Hanoi. The lake is the only known wild habitat of the world's most endangered turtle, Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei). A species for which only four animals are known in existence in the world.

During the meeting contracts are determined for the coming year and since 2012 the ATP has also worked with the local lake owner, fishermen, and wildlife protection authorities, including the Forestry Protection Department (FPD) and local police.  As part of this collaboration the protection of the Swinhoe softshell turtles in the lake is clearly discussed in the meetings. During the 2015 meeting all 42 fishermen signed the no hunting agreements, in which they recognise the importance and protected status of the species.  The use of dangerous and prohibited equipment such as electro-fishing equipment, or long hook line set specifically for softshell turtles are also not allowed.

In 2015 the ATP has also worked with the lake owners and fishermen to build a 13 hectare no fishing zone in the area where the turtle is most often seen surfacing. The last year has also seen a great increase in support from the local fishermen, nine banned long hook lines have been removed from the lake, many of these collected and handed in to the ATP by the fishermen.

Press release by: Nguyen Tai Thang & Timothy McCormack – ATP
Date: 30th June 2015

Download this press release PDF here: English pdf

Download this press release PDF here: Vietnamese pdf


No hunting agreement
Above: Local fishermen signed no-hunting agreements with Forest Protection Department (FPD) staff. Since starting the agreement signing in 2012 we are now seeing positive voluntary involvement in conservation actions from the fishermen, such as phoning in observations of the turtle and removal of harmful fishing lines. Photo by: Nguyen Tai Thang - ATP


rafetus swinhoei

Above: Rafetus swinhoei photographed in 2014 during a particularly active day in Dong Mo Lake. Recently the animal in Dong Mo has faced additional threats, electro-fishing equipment and long lines have fish hooks have been confiscated. There was also a case of opportunistic hunting which almost resulted in capture of a large Rafetus from the lake. A long term protection plan is currently under development with national authorities in Hanoi. Photo by: Nguyen Tai Thang - ATP


Fish hook line

Above: A local fisherman is removing a line of prohibited fish hooks he found, a number of fishermen have removed sets of these harmful fishing equipment and handed into the ATP.  Although set to capture smaller Chinese Softshell Turtles (Pelodiscus sinensis) these lines threaten the Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) in Dong Mo Lake. Photo by: Nguyen Tai Thang - ATP



Thank you:


We would like to thank the Critically Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), IUCN, The Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF) and the Kim Son Police, Son Tay FPD and of course the fishermen and lake owner, Mr Pham Xuan Tu, without who’s support our conservation efforts would not be possible.


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