Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Affairs and Policy (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Maria Estevanez

Second Committee Member

Neil Hammerschlag

Third Committee Member

Dan DiResta


Five species of sea turtle inhabit the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape. Based on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, all five of these populations are threatened with extinction. Bycatch, the incidental take of non-target species in fisheries, is the leading cause of sea turtle decline within the region. To address this issue in the region, methods were used to analyze policy and management in attempts to better determine those gaps, which hinder sea turtle protection. Geographic Information Systems, specifically, ArcGIS, was used determine areas of primary importance to sea turtles. The Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) provided data of purse seine interactions within sea turtles in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Interaction is defined as live sea turtles sighted by observers from purse seine vessels, whether or not they were involved in a set. Through hot spot cluster analysis and Inverse Distance Interpolation (IDW) the whereabouts of sea turtles was examined in relation to the marine protected areas and Exclusive Economic Zones of the Eastern Pacific countries. Second, an extensive literature review was conducted to identify gaps in current national, regional, and international management plans. With this information, one was able to gain a better understanding of the requirements for proper sea turtle protection and offer recommendations to improve current protection.


Sea turtle; Eastern Equatorial Pacific Ocean; Geographic Information Systems; Bycatch; Conservation