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Tracing the origins of sea turtle eggs in the markets of Costa Rica

Pheasey, Helen, Albert Fonseca, Andrea, J. Albertazzi, Federico, Griffiths, Richard A., Roberts, David L. (2024) Tracing the origins of sea turtle eggs in the markets of Costa Rica. Conservation Science and Practice, 6 (5). Article Number e13125. ISSN 2578-4854. (doi:10.1111/csp2.13125) (KAR id:105727)


Unsustainable wildlife trade is a major contributor to biodiversity loss; however, trade regulations have failed to prevent the decline of high-profile species. Where wildlife is traded legally, opportunities exist to launder protected species through legal channels. The legal commercialization of olive ridley sea turtle eggs from Ostional, Costa Rica, has been criticized with some suggesting that the legal trade stimulates illegal extraction and sale of eggs. We aimed to identify whether the traceability rules, under which the Ostional project operates, were suitably robust. We surveyed markets across Costa Rica, by purchasing openly available sea turtle eggs and recording qualitative and quantitative data at the point of sale. We found that 378 (80%) of turtle eggs openly sold in the market were from olive ridley sea turtles. Green (n = 5) and leatherback (n = 6) turtle eggs were only on offer on three occasions, but no vendor referred to Ostional. Vendors frequently breached trade regulations, which appeared to be due to these regulations misaligning with consumer demand. Although the Ostional traceability rules are regularly flouted, we found no evidence that Ostional is being used as a cover to sell eggs from other turtle species.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/csp2.13125
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.
Uncontrolled keywords: ADIO, certification, Chelonia mydas, illegal trade, laundering, Lepidochelys olivacea, livelihoods, Ostional, sustainable use, wildlife trade
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (
Depositing User: Helen Pheasey
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2024 11:56 UTC
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2024 13:20 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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