Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-2nd) and 12 House members urged Obama officials to pressure Mexico to immediately end the needless drownings of Pacific loggerhead sea turtles in a Baja California fishery -- a global hot spot for turtle bycatch. Read the letter here.
The Congressional letter seeks to pressure the Obama administration to step up its efforts to end the excess sea turtle bycatch in Mexico. The U.S. requires its fishermen to stop netting and hooking loggerheads, but Mexico refuses to do the same. Instead Mexico is denying that fishing nets are killing the sea turtles.
The bycatch rate of loggerheads in Baja Mexico gillnets is among the highest in the world — and it is jeopardizing their continued survival. Last summer a horrific 600 percent increase in dead sea turtles was observed in Gulf of Ulloa along Baja's Pacific coast. A shocking 705 loggerheads washed up dead on one stretch of shoreline in just two months. Sea turtle scientists estimate over 2,000 loggerheads were killed last year in gillnets alone off of Baja's coast. Read more here.
In January, the United States officially “identified” Mexico for its unsustainable loggerhead bycatch under the U.S. Protected Living Marine Resources statute, which requires nations to be formally identified, certified and sanctioned for failing to adopt bycatch measures comparable to U.S. protections.
If Mexico doesn't act to stop the turtle bycatch, it faces a U.S. trade embargo.
In May, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Center for Biological Diversity filed a legal petition with the Obama administration seeking a ban on Mexican seafood or other imports to the U.S. until Mexico reduces its sea turtle mortality. Read more here.
Congress members who signed the letter about bycatch of Baja Mexico sea turtles were:
Jared Huffman, CA - 2nd District, San Rafael
Lois Capps, CA- 24th, Santa Barbara
Anna Eshoo, CA - 18th, Palo Alto,
Sam Farr, CA- 20th, Salinas
Michael Honda, CA -17th. San Jose
Barbara Lee, CA- 13th, Alameda
Zoe Lofgren, CA - 19th, San Jose
Alan Lowenthal, CA - 47th, Long Beach
George Miller, CA - 11th, Richmond
Mike Thompson, CA - 5th, Napa
Rick Larsen, WA- 2nd, Bellingham,
Madeline Bordallo, Guam
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Northern Mariana Islands