Raising awareness on the importance of marine turtles in the ecosystem, and the need to safeguard their habitat proved to be an effective strategy for AC Energy to combat the threat of poaching and smuggling of the endangered species in Ilocos Norte.
Another Hawksbill sea turtle was accidentally caught in the nets of local fishermen in Ayoyo Cove, Pagudpud last July 8, 2020. The fishermen, now conscious of the turtle’s value, reported their catch to North Luzon Renewables, the barangay officials of Caparispisan, the local government of Pagudpud, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Pagudpud branches of the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police and Bureau of Fire Protection, who proceeded to document, tag and release the sea turtle.
The critically endangered sea turtle, christened Covida and given the tag number 1319 J, was identified as a female Hawksbill Sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) weighing about 13 kilos. Its ‘carapace’ (hard upper shell) has a length of 54 centimeters and a width of 40 centimeters.
Since 2019, AC Energy has been conducting awareness campaigns in Bangui and Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, to educate the communities about the sea turtles and how to protect them. Last February 2020, the North Luzon Renewables team conducted an orientation on sea turtle rescue that was attended by local fishermen, barangay officials, and owners and representatives of nearby hotels and resorts. Four subsequent releases were reported since then.
“We have seen a significant behavioral shift with the local communities. By creating awareness on environment protection and involving the residents, appreciation and respect for the sea turtles grew,” said Gabby Mejia, President of North Luzon Renewables. “They have discovered the value of protecting nature in their daily lives, and have become stewards of AC Energy in turtle conservation.”
Pawikan conservation is part of the initiative of North Luzon Renewables and NorthWind Power in empowering the local residents to protect terrestrial and marine ecosystems by searching for turtle eggs and securing the nests until hatchlings find their way safe back to the sea. It is a key component of the Conservation Estate in Ilocos Norte, a 700 hectare modern sanctuary that is home to AC Energy’s sustainability programs anchored on excellent environment management, protection of biodiversity and social programs that aim to improve lives.