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Exploiting green and hawksbill turtles in Western Australia: the commercial marine turtle fishery
Halkyard, B. (2014). Exploiting green and hawksbill turtles in Western Australia: the commercial marine turtle fishery, in: Christensen, J. et al. (Ed.) Historical perspectives of fisheries exploitation in the Indo-Pacific. MARE Publication Series, 12: pp. 211-230
In: Christensen, J.; Tull, M. (Ed.) (2014). Historical perspectives of fisheries exploitation in the Indo-Pacific. MARE Publication Series, 12. Springer: Dordrecht. ISBN 978-94-017-8727-7. XV, 276 pp. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/978-94-017-8727-7, more
In: MARE Publication Series. Amsterdam University Press/Springer: Amsterdam. ISSN 2212-6260, more

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Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Australian marine environmental history Marine turtle fishing Ningaloo Reef Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

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  • Halkyard, B.

Abstract
    Many attempts were made to exploit both the green and hawksbill turtle commercially from the mid-1800s. The first commercial export of hawksbill tortoiseshell appeared in the Western Australian trade tables in 1869 and the green turtle fishing industry operated intermittently between 1870 and 1961 prior to the industry becoming successfully established in the 1960s. Historical evidence suggests that up to 55,125 (archival records) and 69,000 (oral histories) green turtles were potentially harvested from Western Australian waters prior to the industry being closed down in 1973. Upper estimates indicate that 20,445 hawksbill turtles were harvested from northern Western Australia over the course of 84 years. It is argued that the exploitation of green turtles led to an observable decline in the numbers of these animals and it is likely that the fishing effort for the tortoise shell industry had an adverse impact on hawksbill turtle populations in the State’s north-west. In a global context, the exploitation of the green and hawksbill turtles in Western Australia occurred at a time when there was an extensive international harvest of marine turtles. The relatively small-scale harvest that took place in Western Australia is likely to have been a factor contributing to the green and hawksbill populations of Western Australia being some of the largest populations remaining in the world. This research provides a detailed historical account of the commercial exploitation of marine turtles in Western Australia, including empirical accounts of the total number of animals harvested from turtle populations throughout the State.

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