The International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) World
Conservation Congress passed a resolution calling on the world, but
especially Costa Rica and Ecuador where the species migrate between
to nest and feed, to create better protection for the critically
endangered Pacific Leatherback sea turtle.
Meeting in Barcelona, more than 8,000 scientists, government
officials and environmental organizations from over 250 nations
overwhelming supported the resolution, sponsored by our sister
organization, PRETOMA, with little debate on Monday (Ocotber 14,
2008), which calls for a "dynamic Leatherback Conservation Zone"
along the migratory route of this species that after nesting in Costa
Rica swims out toward the Galapagos Island during its annual
migration between feeding and nesting areas.
This species is so critically endangered because of the capture of
adults in fishing nets and longline fshing gear, that there was
virtually no opposition. Without immediate action in the Pacific, we
will lose one of the most ancient gentle creatures on the planet, in
the next ten to thirty years.
Based on new satellite tracking data, we know leatherbacks spend a
significant portion of their migration in the sovereign waters of
Costa Rica and Ecuador, where they are being killed in longline and
gillnet fishing gear. While high seas areas are also important and
the species need protection here as well, it is much easier and
quicker to get individual governments to act than multi-national
bodies, such as the United Nations.
We have a plan that will open and close portions of the migration
corridor to fishing as turtles enter and exit the area, thus
minimizing impact(and hopefully opposition) to fisheries, while
allowing one of the largest reptiles on Earth to continue its 100
million year old existence in the future. We believe this corridor
is also used by other endangered species, such as hammerhead sharks,
based on preliminary data, and thus the proposed conservation zone
will benefit many threatened marine species.
Now the hard work continue to turn these resolutions into action. We
will be demanding action from governments and fishing bodies to
prevent the extinction of one of the world's most unique animals.
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