Take Action: Endangered Turtles and Drift Gillnets Don't Mix

  • by: Kinzie Fairman
  • recipient: Eileen Sobeck, National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), Assistant Administrator for Fisheries

As hard as it is to believe, NOAA Fisheries - the agency responsible for the stewardship of marine resources - is considering allowing drift gillnets to operate in one of the most important protected areas for Pacific leatherback sea turtles.

The Pacific leatherback is the world's largest turtle and one of the biggest living reptiles on Earth. During summer and fall, these turtles swim 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to feed on jellyfish that are abundant along the West Coast.

Western Pacific leatherbacks have declined more than 80 percent over the last three generations and drift gillnet fishing is one of the deadly obstacles that these magnificent creatures face. Stretching over a mile long, drift gillnets ensnare and drown sea turtles and other important marine life. Since 2001, the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area (PLCA) has protected sea turtles by prohibiting drift gillnet fishing along parts of the California and Oregon coasts during their migration.

Opening the PLCA to drift gillnets, even experimentally, represents a substantial step backward and runs counter to the Pacific Fishery Management Council's current work to authorize more selective, environmentally friendly, gear types such as deep-set buoy gear. Most countries have outlawed drift gillnets because they indiscriminately catch all sorts of marine life, including sea turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks, and recreationally important game fish.

Opening a sea turtle protection area to the use of fishing gear with known bycatch problems threatens these endangered turtles and would be inconsistent with a stated goal of the Pacific Fishery Management Council to reduce unwanted catch in the West Coast swordfish fishery. Endangered sea turtles and other marine life need your voice.

As hard as it is to believe, NOAA Fisheries - the agency responsible for the stewardship of marine resources - might allow drift gillnets to operate in one of the most important protected areas for Pacific leatherback sea turtles. The Pacific leatherback is the world's largest turtle and one of the biggest living reptiles on Earth. During summer and fall, these turtles swim 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to feed on jellyfish that are abundant along the West Coast. Western Pacific leatherbacks have declined more than 80 percent over the last three generations and drift gillnet fishing is one of the deadly obstacles that these magnificent creatures face. Stretching over a mile long, drift gillnets ensnare and drown sea turtles and other important marine life. Since 2001, the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area (PLCA) has protected sea turtles by prohibiting drift gillnet fishing along parts of the California and Oregon coasts during their migration. Opening the PLCA to drift gillnets, even experimentally, represents a substantial step backward and runs counter to the Pacific Fishery Management Council's current work to authorize more selective, environmentally friendly, gear types such as deep-set buoy gear. Most countries have outlawed drift gillnets because they indiscriminately catch all sorts of marine life, including sea turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks, and recreationally important game fish. Opening a sea turtle protection area to the use of fishing gear with known bycatch problems threatens these endangered turtles and would be inconsistent with a stated goal of the Pacific Fishery Management Council to reduce unwanted catch in the West Coast swordfish fishery. Endangered sea turtles and other marine life need your voice.
Update #13 years ago
Wow guys I am so happy right now I never thought it would get this many signatures but it seems people really do care. All I have to say is THANK YOU FOR CARING
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