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medturtlesUNIPI Team Leader: Prof. Paolo Casale, Dipartimento di Biologia

The project targets the EU populations of two sea turtle species, Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas, which are listed as a priority for conservation in both Annex II and IV of the Habitats Directive. The EU population of Caretta caretta breeds mainly in Greece and Cyprus, with minor nesting sites in Italy and Spain, while its foraging areas occur in the wide continental shelves of the Adriatic and off Tunisia, as well as in the Aegean and along the north Africa coast. The EU population of Chelonia mydas breeds in Cyprus and its foraging areas occur in Turkey, Greece, Albania and north Africa up to Tunisia. Nesting sites are threatened by habitat loss caused by the development of tourism, intensive beach use, and by predation from animals favoured by human presence. At foraging grounds, sea turtles are incidentally caught and killed in high numbers by fishing gear, especially trawl nets, longlines and set nets.

The project will:

  1. reduce the impact of anthropogenic threats at foraging grounds, with priority to trawl and set nets in Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey and Albania;
  2. reduce the impact of anthropogenic threats at nesting sites in Spain and Albania, in order to (i) guarantee a suitable nesting and incubation habitat for the future, including climate change effects, and (ii) allow a high production of newborns recruiting to their populations;
  3. set up a consistent approach for the conservation of the EU sea turtle populations, to optimise current and future efforts and resources in the EU;
  4. set up a network of research and conservation organisations for sea turtle conservation among key actors in EU and relevant non-EU countries, based on common objectives and methods; and
  5. promote among EU and non-EU citizens the concept of shared Mediterranean sea turtle populations and of the common heritage of natural marine resources of which sea turtles are excellent and charismatic flagship species.



Università di Pisa, Italy



  • FSS(Faculté des Sciences de Sfax), Tunisia 
  • UVEG(Universitat de València), Spain
  • HAS(Herpetofauna Albanian Society (Shoqata Herpetofauna Shqiptare)), Albania
  • FC(Fondazione Cetacea onlus), Italy
  • PSCA(Pamukkale Bilim Merkezi Derneği), Turkey

Start date: 01/09/2019

End date: 30/11/2023

Project cost::2,988,888.00 €

EU Contribution: 2,232,888.00 €

UNIPI role: coordinator



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