The California Fish and Game Commission today voted unanimously to support the state bill to make the leatherback the official marine reptile of California. The historic legislation (AB 1776 - Fong) is sponsored by Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN).
The bill has passed the California Assembly with unanimous bi-partisan support, and is now set for a hearing in the state Senate on June 12.
Download our joint comments to Fish and Game here.
Take Action to Support the Bill here.
Read more about the bill here.
The vote of support from Fish and Game Commissioners came despite opposition from members of the California drift gillnet fleet whose fishing grounds have been restricted to prevent entanglement and killing of sea turtles along with whales and other marine animals. The fishers and compliant federal fishery managers want to expand the deadly fishery and be allowed to capture and kill more endangered leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles.
So in attempt to sway the Commissioners to oppose the bill, fishers falsely claimed that the leatherback is not "native" to California. This inaccurate argument came directly from National Marine Fisheries Service leadership in the Southwest region who wrote a negative and wildly misleading analysis of the bill and the status of leatherbacks.
TIRN and Oceana are working hard to defend the bill from these nefarious attacks and the fisher's disingenous efforts to undermine the bill. With help from sea turtle lovers around the state, we will get the bill passed.