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A Deadly Trio of Longline Fisheries Proposed in the U.S. Pacific
Click to Read Death by a Thousand Hooks
California is home to two highly threatened species of sea turtle: the Pacific Leatherback and the Pacific Loggerhead. Our coast contains one of the most important feeding areas in the entire world for leatherbacks and is a significant migratory corridor for loggerheads. Both turtles are among the most imperiled of any sea turtle population in any ocean basin on Earth. Populations of the Pacific Leatherback—a 100 million year old species that outlived the dinosaurs—have declined by approximately 90% in the last 25 years while populations of North Pacific Loggerheads have declined by at least by 80% since the 1980s.
A “deadly trio” of new and expanded commercial swordfish longline fisheries has been proposed in U.S. Pacific waters. If approved, these new and enlarged swordfish longline fisheries will threaten the survival of Pacific leatherbacks and loggerhead sea turtles and result in the by-catch of thousands of sharks, seabirds, whales, dolphins, and non-target fish species.
Scientists agree that industrial Longline and Drift Gillnet fishing threaten recovery of the critically endangered Pacific leatherback and threatened North Pacific loggerhead sea turtle. At a time when federal fishery managers should be looking for ways to further decrease the impacts of longline fishing on ever-shrinking populations of Pacific leatherbacks and North Pacific loggerheads, they are posed rollback critical regulations protecting sea turtles from shallow set longlines. As conservation gains from reduced sea turtle by-catch are likely to be offset in the near future by the negative effects of climate change, the “deadly trio” are poised to further complicate the recovery of global sea turtle populations.
The proposed changes in fishery management would:
1) Open a large portion of the U.S. West Coast EEZ to swordfish longline where no commercial pelagic swordfish longline fishery has ever been permitted;
2) Re-launch a harmful high seas fishery 200 miles off the U.S. West Coast that was closed in 2004 after the government determined it posed too great a risk to imperiled sea turtle populations; and
3) Permit the Hawaii swordfish longline fleet to fish an unlimited number of longline sets and triple the allowable number of sea turtles caught as by-catch each year.
For more information on this report or the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, email firstname.lastname@example.org