UN Panel, Scientists Propose Closing Pacific Fishery
July 13, 2004
San Francisco, California A panel of experts of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization just released a report that recommended closing fisheries that pose the greatest threat to critically endangered Pacific leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles. In order to address the threat of extinction of leatherback and loggerheads, the panel of experts also recommended that ³eco labels² be introduced, fishing effort reduced and financial support be directed towards developing countries to support conservation efforts.
³This is a critically important first step in protecting the
world¹s sea turtles from extinction² explains Robert Ovetz,
PhD, Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator with the Sea Turtle
Restoration Project. The advance copy of the report of the Expert
Consultation on Interactions Between Sea Turtles and Fisheries Within
an Ecosystem Context, which met in Rome, Italy
³The worst fisheries, such as gillnetting and longlining, need
to be shut down until they clean up their act,² says Ovetz. This
recommendation for closures echoes statements by scientists and conservation
leaders urging the UN to protect leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles
by immediately implementing a Pacific-wide moratorium on gillnets
and longlines. Currently,
High seas longlining for tuna, swordfish and shark receives particular
wrath in the report, which documents that more than 60,000 sea turtles
are caught and as many as 30,000 killed by longlining in the Mediterranean
³The Pacific leatherback population is teetering on the verge of extinction, so the FAO has made the right move calling for closing the worst fisheries,² says Todd Steiner, Director of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. Nesting female Pacific leatherbacks have declined by 95% since 1980. A recent study in the scientific journal Ecology Letters estimates that worldwide, 200,000 critically endangered loggerheads and 50,000 critically endangered leatherbacks are caught each year by longlines. The authors estimate that 3600 to 9200 loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles were killed by longlines in the Pacific in 2000. Scientists have warned that the Pacific leatherback could go extinct within the next 5-20 years unless immediate action is taken to reverse their slide into oblivion. One of those actions is to impose a Pacific-wide moratorium on longline fishing.
In addition to sea turtles, an estimated 4 million whales, dolphins, sharks, sea birds, billfish, sea lions and other marine species are maimed and killed by longlines each year in just the Pacific according to a new documentary film and report to be released soon by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project.
The report by the FAO panel of experts also echoes a recommendation by the Convention on Biological Diversity in the Jakarta Mandate for an ³interim prohibition of destructive practices² adversely impacting marine biological diversity.
SEA TURTLE RESTORATION PROJECT
To view the complete report click here.
This article courtesy of IBFN.
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