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Conservation and community benefit: “Bottle bead” sustainable livelihood project in support of sea turtle protection

Date Approved: 05.2009

In very poor places, sea turtle conservation efforts face a serious challenge: Coastal people see few alternatives to killing sea turtles for food or cash. As a result, sea turtles are severely depleted on Caribbean islands. Coastal development has also destroyed important nesting and foraging habitat.

The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) is launching a pilot project to produce “beach bottle” beads in Caribbean island communities. The objective is to use discarded or recycled bottle glass to make beads and jewelry. The products will have small educational/conservation labels and will be sold in local gift shops. Women in three communities will receive training. They will be chosen based on their capacity to sustain the project, market the beads, and show that the new skills will reduce sea turtle deaths. Our nonprofit partner hopes to replicate the project throughout the region, boosting rural incomes and protecting endangered sea turtles.

Project Updates

June 2011

On May 24, 2011, WIDECAST Director Dr. Karen Eckert reported, “Following the approved work plan, this wonderful project is within days of completion. Focusing on developing a pilot project in utilizing recycled glass collected from Caribbean communities to craft stunning glass beads and jewelry, the project is finalizing a Handbook on the ‘Beach Bottle Bead’ program to enable WIDECAST to replicate the pilot at other sites. We are very grateful for Seacology’s support!” As of June 10, 2011, the project has come to a successful close.

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June 2010

WIDECAST reports that professional jewelry training took place in Matura, Trinidad at the end of April 2010. The training was hosted by Nature Seekers (an existing community pilot for the Bottle Bead project) and attended by Dr. Kimberly Stewart (Director, St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network) and two of her Bottle Bead artisans. In addition, four artisans and two apprentices from Nature Seekers participated in this training. WIDECAST has also made significant progress on the handbook, with an early draft available. Finally, WIDECAST has selected two new communities (one in Antigua and one in Dominica) to train in 2010. On the recommendation of the fishers taking part in the workshop hosted by Nature Seekers, the project will not be replicated beyond the pilot communities of St. Kitts and Trinidad until marketing strategies are identified and deployed (such as a catalog, retail partners, web-based sales, etc.).

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April 2010

As of April 2010 Seacology has approved changes to the original project which include the addition of jewelry making training and creating a handbook for participants as well as now limiting the project to working with only two communities instead of three. This will enable WIDECAST to offer a more comprehensive and thorough training to each community involved.

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