If Penguins Can Become Hollywood Celebrities, So Can Sea Turtles!
Posted by Mike Milne on March 5th, 2009
As far as I'm concerned, films about sea turtles are a "no brainer." These mysterious ocean voyagers have an amazing story to share with landlubbers and terrestrial species. Learn more about sea turtles, or spend a short time swimming with them, and you'll want to help these ancient creatures overcome the perils of the modern world. You'll want them to survive.
There are documentaries like Last Voyage of the Leatherback and Disney's "Finding Nemo" that included Crush, a Sea Turtle Duuuude! who surfed the ocean's currents, but not one feature length film that has hit the mainstream theaters. Why hasn't a feature length film introduced the masses to sea turtles? I have no clue, I'm speechless, I just don't get it. That, however, may finally be about to change!
Turtle: The Incredible Journey, which tracks the journey
of a loggerhead turtle across the Atlantic Ocean, has scored a wide release in England and may becoming to a theaters in the U.S. next year.
The star of the film is a loggerhead named FeeBee that was released off
the Florida coast in 2008 as part of a project led by one of the
world's leading turtle biologists and the film's key science
consultant, Professor Jeanette Wyneken from the Florida Atlantic
Click here to watch the trailer and then call your local theater to tell them you want to see it on the big screen!
Talkin' Seafood: a simple way YOU can help the ocean
Posted by Mike Milne on February 26th, 2009
For many people, their most tangible connection to the ocean is through their dinner plate. Thankfully, many people have learned that their choices of what to eat are not a trivial connection, but are a critical part of restoring the ocean's health. With that in mind, one of the most common subjects of emails I receive from our members goes something like this...
"I signed the pledge to not eat tuna and shrimp caught by long line fishery. Now please tell me, I live no where near an ocean, how do I know how a tuna or shrimp is caught? (we never see swordfish here) Is there one brand that I should be watching for, good or bad?"
Simple question, right? Is there a simple answer?
Nope! The best way to be sure of how a tuna or shrimp is caught is to do it yourself... Plan B is to ask the market where you buy your fish who they got it from, where it came from, and what fishing methods were used. Chances are your local market gets it from a seafood distributor and the market doesn't actually know. If a market doesn’t know how their fish is caught, avoid it. If your
feeling up to it, tell them you will only buy fish if you know where
and how it was caught. But they might, and if they do, take that information and find it on a seafood guide. Try SeafoodWatch. I would avoid all fish on the yellow and red list and ONLY eat fish listed as green—it’s a good rule of thumb. Also, fish
certified by the Marine Stewardship Council is generally “sustainable.”
A quick word about seafood cards... seafood guides attempt to move seafood lovers in the right direction and they are useful. But to date, no single list incorporates a holistic view that encourages consumers to eat lower on the sea-food chain (for example, small fish and shellfish harvested by acceptable methods), avoid fish with high levels of toxins, and also recognizes that our over-all seafood consumption must be reduced. To solve the challenges facing our oceans, we need to eat LESS seafood, not just different fish.
You can also look for common fish that has been caught using handheld "hook and line” techniques or harpoon. For example, in California we have a fishery for small albacore tuna that uses hook-and-line, a method that is practically free of by-catch. The tuna is small, so it hasn't accumulated dangerous levels of mercury either.
Ports and shipping threaten sea turtle beaches
Posted by Teri Shore, Program Director on February 18th, 2009
About 25 sea turtle symposium delegates gathered to share concerns about the growing number of port expansions and increased shipping traffic in sea turtle habitat around the world at a ports and shipping discussion hosted by Sea Turtle Restoration Project at the international symposium in Brisbane, Australia.
Among the most troubling projects are located on the East Coast of India in Orissa and in Northwest Australia. A large industrial port at Dhamra in Orissa is just one of 30 new ports planned for the coastline where olive ridleys nest im mass arribadas. While most of the controversy to date has focused on Dhamra where environmental review has been sidelined in favor of corporate profits, sea turtle biologists and activists from the region explain that there are many more coming down the pike that could spell bad news for the future of the sea turtles. The lighting, dredging, noise and disturbance of the port construction project alone could disrupt life cycles.
In northwest Western Australia, Chevron plans to build a new LNG processing plant and vessel terminal smack on top of rare Australian flatback habitat (see photo of flatback.). While Chevron is making some attempt to study these sea turtles, it's clear that the company plans to build no matter what. Right now flatbacks nest on Barrow Island where Chevron has been operating about 50 oil rigs in the middle of the island. Crude oil is pumped through a pipeline 4 miles off shore to tankers. The sea turtles seem to be surviving despite the development, though no studies have ever been done to see if the industrial facility has caused any problems.
The new project would add a huge processing plant for natural gas found offshore in the Gorgon Gas fields. The gas would then be pumped offshore to waiting ships. It will be a huge project that is very likely to disperse the flatback population, but again, no long-term studies have been done to see what the problems might be.
Worse, the entire coast of Western Australia is threated by plans for 50 new industrial port and mining projects that could forever remove sea turtle habitat as well as destroy other marine life, ancient land species and Aborignal sacred sites.
During the discussion, people pointed out other areas where ports and shipping intersect with sea turtles. In Malaysia, a LNG port is located right next to a sea turtle nesting beach. When hatchlings leave the nest, they tend to veer down the beach towards the flares of the gas plant smokestacks or the ship lighting instead of to the sea. They won't live long if they use energy going the wrong direction.
In California, leatherback sea turtles were found congregating in shipping lanes outside the Golden Gate near San Francisco; and in San Diego increased cruise ship traffic could be a problem for sea turtles using the coastal waters there.
All agreed that the sea turtle community needed to assess the impacts to sea turtles from ports and shipping and develop guidelines based on research and existing science to develop international guidelines to prevent harm. Each location will need specific analysis, but a general framework is needed to address lighting, dregding, noise, disturbance, ship dumping, ship speeds in sea turtle habitat, destruction of nesting habitat, invasive species from ballast water, chemicals from hull fouling, and many other operational impacts.
As a first step, we will set up a listserv to share information and plan to conduct a session or sessions at the next ISTS in India next year. I look forward to moving this issue forward and engaging the sea turtle community in this international effort.
Aboriginal dancers and Queensland environmental minister join Australian sea turtle expert Colin Limpus in opening 29th international symposium
Posted by Teri Shore on February 16th, 2009
Sea turtle biologists, advocates, beach monitors, and experts from around the world were officially welcomed tonight along the banks of the Brisbane River to the 29th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology. Traditional landowners from a local dance troupe clacked sticks and pounded their feet down in ancient moves while a didgeridoo player sounded a circular drone. Several hundred people watched from the Piazza, a large concrete amphitheatre in the humid night air. STRP's Western Pacific campaigner Wences Magun arrived last night, so he joined me at the uplifting outdoor celebration of the sea turtles.
For many of us, this was not the beginning of the symposium, but the third day of presentations, talks, meetings and greeting with sea turtles at the center all the while. We started on Saturday with Pacific Island people explaining new sea turtle protection efforts on remote tropical islands where in some places indigenous communities still use sea turtle eggs and meat. The message I heard was that the success of any conservation effort where turtles are a means of survival must include the people who live near the beaches. Long gone are the days where top-down efforts are seen as a viable path. The leaders in the Pacific Island sea turtle conservation community have produced a plan of action to protect sea turtles across national boundaries beginning with projects to count nests and sea turtles and monitor beaches -- often for the first time.
The Western Pacific leatherback sea turtle was center stage on the second day. The critically endangered sea turtle is declining through its range. In the Southeast Asian region, protections and information about the declines are only now beginning to emerge. Sea turtle scientists are viewing the totality of the leatherback populations scattered from Australia to Indonesia and east through the Pacific Islands as one "meta-population" that migrates south, west and north. Perhaps as many as 4,000 to 5,000 adult females are breeding in this region, but even that is hardly a safe and sound population, particularly when you realize that Atlantic leatherback populations number in the tens of thousands.
The hope is that new protections at the beaches will slow the march toward extinction -- though for some fisheries agencies it seems the primary goal is to protect more sea turtles so that more may be sacrificed in longline fisheries for swordfish and tuna.. At STRP we are working for the long-term survival of the Pacific leatherback and an unemcumbered ocean where they can swim free forever.
I'll write more soon on the fascinating Australian flatback sea turtle and collaborative efforts in the tropical north to keep them thriving in the face of industrial port projeccts, predation from non-native animals, beach erosion and hunting by subsistence communities.California based-Chevron wants to build a major new LNG processing plant and port smack on significant flatback beaches in Northwest Australia's Pilbara region. Yes, people do . . .
Today, STRP co-hosted a lunchtime disucssion on ports, shipping and sea turtles attended by about 25 people concerned about industrial developments along nesting beaches and in foraging habitat from Australia to India to Malaysia to California and Florida. More on that later, too!
Support HJR 18 to keep the Endangered Species Act strong!
Posted by Carole Allen, Gulf Office Director on February 15th, 2009
One of the most disturbing changes that the former administration tried to make as they left office would damage the Endangered Species Act severely. This last minute law would enable federal agencies to make decisions on building highways, dams and other major projects that might drive plants and animals toward extinction without ever getting the advice of expert scientists with National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This terrible change can be prevented by supporting House Joint Resolution 18, legislation introduced by the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee Nick Rahall. Please give thought to contacting your representative and asking him or her to support HJR 18. It just makes sense.
Brisbane Australia - Center of the Sea Turtle World for a week
Posted by Teri Shore , Program Director on February 11th, 2009
I've arrived in Brisbane and am getting ready for the International Sea Turtle Symposium that begins on Saturday, Feb. 14. Sea Turtle Restoration Project is organizing an informal discussion about the threats to sea turtles from ports and shipping on Monday. And on Wednesday, STRP campaigner Wences Magun from Papua New Guinea will present a summary of his recent work along the North Coast in Madang Province with communities to protect beaches and waters for leatherback sea turtles. We will also be busy forwarding a resolution to establish a marine protected area for Pacific Leatherbacks along the coast of Costa Rica. Wence and I have also been invited by Friends of the Earth Australia in Brisbane to give a talk about sea turtle protection and threats on Wednesday night.
Brisbane is situated on the East Coast of Australia in Queensland on the Brisbane River that curves like a rainbow serpent to the Pacific Ocean. This area has been spared the flooding to the north and the tragic fires far to the south in Victoria outside of Melbourne.
Being from California, the wrath of wildfires is well-known to me. But the extent of the damage and death toll is still shocking. The disaster in Victoria hit closer to home when I realized that I stayed for several days in one of the towns that was wiped out on Black Saturday: Marysville. Just before leaving Australia in November 2007, I stayed in a lovely caravan park in Marysville, a few hours northeast of Melbourne. On recommendation of my friend and colleague Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth, I hiked in the Cathedral Range north of town, looking for koalas. I never saw one, but spent hours climbing through eucalytpus forest and over rocky sections high above the green farms below. This morning on television, animal rescue workers were shown bandaging the burnt leg of a koala that somehow escaped the blaze.
Tonight Australians will come together via television in a special broadcast featuring Australian stars including Nicole Kidman to raise funds for the families who have lost their homes and loved ones in the fires. My heart goes out to the people of Australia - my second home.
Plastic: another enemy to the Leatherback Sea Turtle
Posted by on
Leatherbacks, which feed primarily on jellyfish, are known to mistake plastic bags for food. Now a recent study has shown just how deadly plastic may be for the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle. Autopsy records of 408 leatherback turtles, spanning 123 years
(1885–2007), found plastic in the
GI tract 34% of the time! Sometimes, the ingested plastic even blocked the gut, likely resulting in death of the turtle. Notice the large increase in plastic found in leatherbacks since the 1960s.
Plastic bags may kill tens of thousands of whales, seals,
turtles and other marine animals a year.
What can YOU do about it? Get your city to phase out the use of plastic bags! San Francisco already did it. Los Angeles banned plastic bags by July 1, 2010.
Check out this informative video by "J" Nichols, to see just how similar plastic bags and jellyfish actually look. His blog rocks too.
Track Leatherbacks Across the Ocean with Google Earth!
Posted by Mike Milne on
Starting today, users of Google Earth 5 can follow the migration of the Pacific leatherback sea turtle across the ocean, tracking their movements over time in an interactive, 3-D ocean world! A number of researchers at Tagging of Pacific Predators, led by Stanford University's Barbara Block, (one of our Great Turtle Race partners) worked with Google to share the data. Once users find a leatherback, they can even "swim along" from a leatherback's "eye view.” The tracking data--which can be viewed under the "animal tracking" Ocean layer also includes, tuna, sharks, whales, seals, and other marine life.
For a hint on where to find leatherbacks this time of year, try the South Pacific Gyre. What's that? Well... you might learn something in the process!
Click here to sample its power!
Tuna Labeling for Mercury Hinges on Judge's Opinion
Posted by Teri Shore, Program Director on January 28th, 2009
Whether mothers and children will be warned about the harm from
mercury in canned tuna will be decided not based on threats to health
or the latest science. Instead, it will hinge on whether a panel of
judges believe the tuna industry's claims that the potent neurotoxin is
"naturally occurring" and therefore not needing a label under
California's Proposition 65 chemical "right to know" law.
a court hearing yesterday in San Francsico, the California Attorney
General's office argued that even if only 5 percent of the
methylmercury in fish was NOT naturally occuring, it is toxic enough to
warrant a warning because it is known to cause cancer and reproductive
harm. See the Associated Press story at sfgate.com.
No one except the tuna canners dispute that tuna and other fish contain
methlymercury or that it's potentially harmful to pregnant women,
unborn babies, children and anyone who eats too much of it. Even the
federal government under the Bush Adminstration issued warnings against mercury-laden fish.(Though the FDA staffers who remain are still hoping to repeal the advisory.)
also clear the mercury pollution from coal-burning power plants around
the world deposit tons of mercury into the atmosphere, which is
deposited in the ocean and converted to toxic methylmercury by
bacteria. The toxin then is eaten by marine organisms, fish and
eventually accumulates in the tissue of large fish. Some of the mercury
also occurs naturally in the ocean, scientists believe.
Because the tuna industry doesn't put the mercury in the fish, nor can
they take it out, the lobbyists argue that it is naturally occurring
and expempt from Proposition 65 warnings. In fact, they want mothers,
children and everyone to EAT MORE toxic fish to make sure profits don't
lag. We sure hope that the judges don't agree. In fact, federal statute
has already determined that methylmercury in fish is caused by human
activity is not solely naturally occurring. We'll know in
the next 90 days whether people will get the information they need to
decide whether or not to buy tuna for their families.
The scandal of mercury-tainted fish exposed by doctor on Yale website
Posted by Teri Shore, Program Director on January 26th, 2009
Last week more than 60 people packed a classroom in Tiburon, California, to hear author Dr. Jane Hightower reveal the findings in her book Diagnosis Mercury. The book explains why mercury-tainted fish still makes its way to our dinner plates. Today, Yale University published her appeal to the Obama administration to reverse decades of obsolete science and seafood industry interference and set safe standards to protect women, children and sushi lovers from mercury poisoning from fish.
Dr. Hightower is a dynamic speaker and truth-seeker who came to this issue through her patients. She never intended to be the one to expose that our mercury-safe standards are based on a mercury poisioning in Iraq while Saddam Hussein was in power. Now that the U. S. FDA is trying to push through a last-minute Bush adminstration effort to weaken these standards, her story is more important and timely than ever.
Not only is mercury-laden tuna, swordfish and sushi bad for your health, the fishing methods used to capture these fish are wiping out endangered sea turtles, birds and whales and devasting the ocean.
World's Oldest Turtle Fossil is a Proto-Sea Turtle
Posted by Mike Milne on December 1st, 2008
|(c) Doug Perrine/Seapics.com|
The world's oldest fossil of a turtle discovered off the coast of China last year turns out to be... a sea turtle! The fossil, thought to be 220 million years old, gives scientists new insights into how turtles got their shells. It provides evidence that turtle shells formed from their bellies as extensions of the backbone and ribs, not as bony plates evolved from skin. The lower shell is thought to have protected the swimming proto-turtles from predators lurking below.
The fossil also suggests that turtles evolved in the sea and only later spread onto land. In other words, the earliest turtles may have actually been sea turtles!
Read a summary of the study
Crab fishers spot leatherbacks swimming off San Mateo coast
Posted by Teri Shore on November 24th, 2008
Crab fisher Steve Lodoen recently posted this on the Coastside Fishing Club listserv:
"We were out of Pillar Point and were 11 NM from the green can when we pulled our
pots from 280' of water. We saw the turtle on the way back to the harbor from
pulling our pots. The . . . picture looks back at Half Moon Bay, but I'm not
sure how far out we were at the time. The turtle was heading out to sea when we
saw him (her ???)."
"I'd guess it was 5 feet long or more and had a head half the size of a
Threat to Leatherbacks from Longlines and our work to prevent it on CBS TV 5 news in Bay Area
Posted by Todd Steiner on November 22nd, 2008
CBS Channel 5 news did a great story on the threat to leatherbacks from longlines and our work to stop it.
It can be seen on-line at http://cbs5.com/environment/leatherback.turtle.killed.2.869880.html
(CBS 5) ― Each year, hundreds leatherback turtles migrate half way around the world -- swimming thousands of miles across the Pacific from their nesting grounds in Indonesia to the Bay Area, to feed on a massive colony of the jellyfish. But many of the rare turtles could soon be snared in California fishing lines.
Yet the leatherback is in trouble. Many die each year at the hands of fishermen, and this may soon worsen right off California's shoreline. Longliner fishing boats out for swordfish regularly catch turtles in their deadly hooks. The turtles often drown and die before fishermen are able to untangle them. That's why longline fishing was banned off the West Coast years ago. But now, despite opposition from the California Legislature and environmental groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service is getting ready to allow longline fishing between 50 and 200 miles off of our coast.
"At a time they should be trying to protect these sea turtles and save every leatherback…they are putting more hooks into the ocean and increasing threats to the species," said Michael Milne of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project.
Video and full story at http://cbs5.com/environment/leatherback.turtle.killed.2.869880.html
PS- This week I was interviewed on ABC Ch 7 TV as director of SPAWN another project of Turtle Island Restoration Network, which works to protect endangered salmon. You can see it at here http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/north_bay&id=6515365
President Obama: “Yes We Can... Hope” for the Future
Posted by Todd Steiner, Executive Director: on November 7th, 2008
The election of Barack Obama was an historic moment for the US and offers all Americans and the people of the world hope for the future.
There is so much to do and he seems so capable and inspiring.
But we cannot forget it is only the beginning of a process that if we don’t stay organized, focused and critical when necessary, it can backfire resulting in a lost opportunity. The last thing we want is future disillusionment of a whole new generation of young people who were energized to get involved with this inspirational human being.
We must remember that, as Obama himself has said repeatedly, “change doesn’t come from the top down, it comes from the bottom up.”
The forces which plunder the Earth have not gone away and still yield tremendous political power and will do all they can to maintain the status quo.
Our job is to assist and support Obama as he makes good on his environmental and social justice promises and hold him to account if he does not.
To do otherwise would be irresponsible.
STRP Weighs In on the California Ocean Protection Council's "Climate Change Adaptation Strategy"
Posted by Mike Milne on November 6th, 2008
|Alan F Rees/ARCHELON|
As the climate warms and the effects of climate change become more pronounced, STRP has stepped up efforts to mitigate the negative consequences for California’s sea turtles. This past week, STRP submitted comments to the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) on their draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. In our letter, we advocated for an increasingly precautionary approach to fishery management in the West Coast Exclusive Economic Zone—the ocean waters between 3-200 miles from shore.
Commercial fisheries and government policy-makers need to respond to a new reality: global warming makes the consequences of fishery by-catch an even graver threat to the Pacific leatherback and Pacific loggerhead. The effects of climate change are likely to introduce greater scientific uncertainty into population viability analyses as scientists struggle to assess changing sea turtle habitats, reproductive success, and population resiliency.
What does this mean? We need to reduce existing levels of sea turtle by-catch right now.
STRP recommended the OPC consider:
• Fishery policies that include cumulative effects analyses of the impacts of climate change on California’s sea turtles
• Legislative efforts to prohibit longlining in the West Coast Exclusive Economic Zone
• Additional protections for loggerhead sea turtles given the projected increase in EL Nino frequency
• 100% observer coverage on California’s drift gillnet fleet
Why Not Stop Shrimping?
Posted by Carole H. Allen, Gulf Office Director on October 14th, 2008
The Gulf of Mexico from the Texas/Louisiana boundary southward to the boundary shared by Matagorda and Brazoria Counties (Texas) is full of debris following Hurricane Ike. The National Marine Fisheries Service has authorized shrimp trawlers not to use their turtle excluder devices (TEDs). Instead, shrimp trawlers in the affected areas can use restricted tow times instead of TEDs. The trawlers must limit their tow times to 55 minutes from the time the trawl doors enter the water until they are removed until November 7 at 11:59 p.m. The authorization extends 20 nautical miles.
Hurricane Gustave brought a similar authorization in the waters off Louisiana from the Mississippi/Louisiana boundary to the Texas/Louisiana boundary extending offshore 20 nautical miles due to debris from Hurricane Gustave. This authorization ends on October 26.
According to an article in the Beaumont Enterprise, shrimpers are only catching 1/3 of what they normally catch because of heavy debris levels. With such low rates of catch and the danger of large objects in the water, it would make sense for the government to suspend shrimping instead of calling for a limited tow time which is virtually un-enforceable.
Calls for Leatherback Biological Corridor in the Pacific at Major International Environmental Meeting
Posted by Todd Steiner on October 14th, 2008
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.
World Bank Report Slams Overfishing at World Environmental Meeting
Posted by Mike Milne on October 13th, 2008
The World Bank is no bastion of environmental conservation, but they have joined the swelling ranks of governments, environmental NGOs, fishery managers, and even the WTO (!) in speaking up about the state of the world's fisheries.
According to a new World Bank study circulated at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress now underway in Barcelona, Spain, streamlining global fishing fleets and catching fewer fish could
conservatively save $50 billion per year—at least half the value of the
existing global seafood trade. The report, “The Sunken Billions: The Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform,” estimates that the total economic loss to the global economy over the past 25 years has been approximately $2.2 trillion USD!
Zoinks Scoob! $2.2 trillion!
Global fish stocks have been diminished to their lowest levels in history, and now ‘too many fishers chasing too few fish’ has made fishing incredibly costly, a sinking ship buoyed by yearly global subsidies of at least $30-34 billion. Experts estimate that upwards of 75% of the world's commercial fish stocks have seen dramatic declines in the last couple decades.
Think this is a minor issue? Think again! Healthy fisheries are fundamental to the global food security and
economic security of many of the earth's poorest people. Fish was once the main animal protein for over 1
billion people. It provides livelihoods for over 200 million people—90
percent of which are in the developing world. For these people, the loss of fish stocks is devastating, and a matter of economic justice.
‘Sunken Billions’ notes that despite recent large increases in global fishing effort and cost, marine catches have been stagnant for over a decade. The report estimates that current levels of marine catch could be achieved with approximately half of the current global fishing effort—illustrating the massive amount of overcapacity and the inefficiencies of the global fishing fleet.
The World Bank study identified three major ways global fisheries could create an economic surplus and drive economic growth rather than being a net drain on the global economy. It recommended a reduction in fishing effort, the rebuilding fish stocks, and the elimination of fishing subsidies to increase productivity and lower fishing costs. In the absence of fishery reform, the World Bank report forecasts increasingly inefficient fishing operations and growing poverty among the world’s fishing communities.
The World Bank report comes on the heels of World Trade Organization deliberations on how to reduce fishing subsidies and simultaneously address the destructive influences of subsidy-driven overfishing. Reigning in over-fishing has become a rising international priority on the agendas of world leaders in the face of forecasts of future global fishery collapse.
STRP will continue to protect sea turtles and other species from longlining and other harmful fishing practices. Today, however, it appears destructive industrial fishing practices are heading towards Davy Jones' Locker.
New Book on Dangers of Mercury in Seafood
Posted by Teri Shore on October 9th, 2008
New Evidence Highlights Dangers of Mercury Toxicity in Fish
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Jane Hightower -- widely
acknowledged as the first US physician to recognize low-level mercury
poisoning in patients who regularly consume certain types of fish -- today
released new evidence showing that the FDA has failed to inform and protect
the public from the risks of mercury poisoning due to consumption of
certain types of seafood. Dr. Hightower has released a new book, Diagnosis:
Mercury: Money, Politics, and Poison, which is widely available in stores
starting October 7, 2008.
"Common sense says that if you are not feeling well, and are eating
poison, then stop eating it and see if you feel better," said Dr.
Hightower. "The problem is that we are not given enough information about
just how much mercury is in the fish that is widely available in stores and
restaurants. Most American consumers are simply unaware that the fish they
eat could be making them sick."
Using newly available legal testimony and investigative research into
the source of the scientific data that inform the FDA's mercury consumption
guidelines, Dr. Hightower has pulled together information that should
concern everyone in the United States.
The FDA's current mercury consumption guidelines are rooted in a study
of the victims of a mass methylmercury poisoning in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
While researchers from the University of Rochester and the World Health
Organization wrote articles about the effects of mercury on these victims,
Dr. Hightower shows that their conclusions were based on data provided by
one of Hussein's government allies. And this associate in Iraq's health
ministry -- who oversaw the study of Iraqi victims of mercury toxicity --
has recently revealed that he withheld information from researchers,
information that might have shown severe effects at much lower levels of
When the FDA and the swordfishing giant Anderson Seafood Inc. went to
court in the mid-1970s over the FDA's consumption guidelines, Anderson used
the Iraqi study as proof that high levels of mercury exposure are safe for
the general public. The company won its case based on the evidence
presented in court. But in the course of Dr. Hightower's research she
discovered that one of the lead investigators of the Iraqi poisoning
disputed the fishing industry's claim of how much mercury is safe to eat.
Even as government agencies around the world -- including our own EPA --
have moved away from the "safe" levels based on the Iraq studies, the FDA
has failed to adequately warn the public that mercury-laden seafood is a
major threat to their health. The concern reaches far beyond women of
childbearing age and children.
"Diagnosis: Mercury brings together the strongest evidence to date that
the FDA's guidelines for fish consumption are insufficient," said Chuck
Savitt, president of Island Press, which published the book. "We simply
don't know how widespread low-level mercury toxicity is in the United
States, and this book tells us that regular consumers of certain types of
fish are in danger."
Hightower's research spans from individual patients in her practice to
widespread mercury poisonings in Japan, Canada, and Iraq. Diagnosis:
Mercury makes a powerful case for increased study and stronger FDA
regulation of this poison in our food supply.
SOURCE Island Press
Pacific leatherbacks featured in San Francisco Chronicle
Posted by Teri Shore on September 29th, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle science writer David Perlman penned an excellent article about Pacific leatherbacks swimming off the California coast in the September 29, 2008, issue. David also wrote about these rare and fascinating giant sea animals in July during the Great Turtle Race when Stanford researcher George L. Shillinger published a long-awaited study on sea turtle tracks across the Pacific. The science writer also took interest in the resolution (AJR 62) to protect leatherbacks from longline fishing that STRP passed with the leadership of Assemblyman Mark Leno of San Francisco.
We may be biased, but we certainly could not agree more with David Perlman's recent recognition by Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists with the Distinguished Service Award.
Congratulations David on your award and thank you for the excellent scientific coverage of the Pacific leatherback sea turtle.