Don't Relax Sea Turtle Bycatch Limits in Hawaii

  • by: Judith B.
  • target: National Marine Fisheries Service, United States of America

All 7 species of sea turtle are under threat and 5 of them are found in the waters around Hawaii, including the endangered loggerhead and the critically endangered leatherback.

One of the main threats to turtles and other marine animals is accidental death during fishing operations.

Because of this, there are limits on the numbers of turtles that swordfish fishermen can hook. These limits have just been increased 100% for loggerheads and 60% for leatherbacks, although neither species is any less endangered. The environmental group Oceana says this increase will also lead to the deaths of more dolphins, sea birds and sharks.

Turtles are already struggling to survive and the last thing they need is another threat. Hawaii’s ocean wildlife is not only important in its own right, it also attracts tourists and by doing so forms a critical part of the islands’ economy.  

Tell the National Marine Fisheries Service to retract this backward decision immediately.

We the undersigned ask that you retract the decision to increase sea turtle bycatch limits for swordfish fishing operations.

Sea turtles numbers are not increasing; in fact the species in question, loggerheads and leatherbacks, are more critically endangered than ever before. They need more conservation, not less. If the claim that no turtles were hooked in recent years is true, then there is absolutely no need to increase turtle catch limits, which would only encourage more carelessness. If it isn’t, then increasing the limits will put the two species under even greater pressure.

Hawaii needs to ensure that exploitation of its natural resources is sustainable; otherwise all the industries, notably tourism and fishing, that depend upon marine life will disappear too. This relaxation of turtle bycatch limits is a step backwards and sets a dangerous precedent.

We ask that you put wildlife and the future before fast profit, and return sea turtle catch limits in Hawaii to their previous levels.

Thank you for your attention.

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