Brad Nahill

"We haven’t seen a lot of evidence that there is a major connection between the illegal trade of turtle products and drug traffickers, though it is possible. The situation really depends on the country, we have seen places where enforcement seems to be working fairly well, such as in Belize and parts of Costa Rica, and other places where there doesn’t seem to be any enforcement like in Nicaragua especially"

Brad Nahill is the Director & Co-founder of SEE Turtles. He has worked in sea turtle conservation, ecotourism, and environmental education for 15 years with organisations including Ocean Conservancy, Rare, Asociacion ANAI (Costa Rica), and the Academy of Natural Sciences (Philadelphia). He has also consulted for several ecotourism companies and non-profits, including EcoTeach and Costa Rican Adventures. Mr Nahill is a co-author of the Worldwide Travel Guide to Sea Turtles, Chair of the Awards Committee of the International Sea Turtle Society, and has authored several book chapters, blogs, and abstracts on turtle conservation and ecotourism, and has presented at major travel conferences and sea turtle symposia. Brad Nahill has a B.S. in Environmental Economics from Penn State University and taught a class on Ecotourism at Mount Hood Community College.

ECOCLUB.com: SEE Turtles, which you founded, prides itself in being the world's first effort to protect marine turtles specifically through ecotourism. How did you come up with this idea and how ready were tax authorities, as well as fellow conservationists, to treat your pioneering operation model fairly?

Brad Nahill: Our co-founder Wallace J. Nichols originally came up with the idea while working on turtle conservation with fishermen in Baja California Sur, Mexico. The idea was to try to use tourism as an alternative to fishing since many turtles were being caught in the fishing gear and drowning. I had a similar experience in Costa Rica where ecotourism was being used to support conservation efforts there. When we started SEE Turtles, we were part of Ocean Conservancy, which is a policy organisation that at the time was only focused on work in the US, so it was a challenge to convince some of our colleagues that tourism could be used as a conservation tool. We eventually ended up moving the organisation to The Ocean Foundation, which was a better fit and had experience working with conservation projects that also involve tourism. As far as tax authorities, that was never an issue since non-profits are allowed to earn income as long as profits are reinvested into programs.

ECOCLUB.com: Do you find it relevant or necessary to quantify your goals, for example, to measure SEE Turtles' conservation effectiveness per dollar earned through ecotourism compared to state organisations and more mainstream environmental NGOs?

Brad Nahill: I think any organisation needs to measure effectiveness to convince government authorities and donors that their work is worth supporting. We put a focus on concrete goals for our programs, whether it is the amount per trip that goes to benefit conservation or local communities, the number of turtle hatchlings saved, or the number of students reached.