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.
The Aftermath of Hurricane Ike
Posted by Carole H. Allen on September 28th, 2008
Gulf Office Director
The worst results of Hurricane Ike for sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico are just now becoming apparent. Tons of trash from destroyed beach houses are floating up on south Texas beaches including the Padre Island National Seashore where more Kemp's ridleys have nested than anywhere else on the Texas coast. "Crews filled 14 40-cubic-yard Dumpsters in the past week," reported Larry Turk, chief of maintenance for the Padre Island National Seashore. "Miles haven't been touched."
The most serious result of the storm may be the removal of sandy beaches from miles along the upper Texas coast. Dr. Andre Landry, Jr. of Texas A&M University at Galveston described the beaches as "primarily Beaumont clay that has been exposed as the sand was washed across roads and into the bay. We will have a severe problem during the nesting season if beaches are not renourished."
Dr. Landry plans a survey of the upper Texas coast to get a complete picture of the beach erosion but right now, it looks very bad for nesters next spring.
"Battle In Seattle" -- the movie
Posted by Todd Steiner on September 20th, 2008
This movie captures the intensity of this historical event and delivers a message you don't often hear in Hollywood! It's a must see and see it soon! It may have a short run with its "power for the people" message and little corporate backing!
The actors are great-- Charlize Theron, Woody Harrelson and Andre 3000 and the others who I wasn't familiar with.
At the time (1999), the New York Times declared the sea turtle
protesters the "Symbol of Peaceful Protest" and we delivered a message
that the WTO threatened our democracy when it ruled against the
turtle-shrimp provsion of the Endangered Species Act declaring it a
violation of so-called free trade.
Read what the a labor leader has to say at the AFL-CIO site
My STRP colleagues Peter Fugazzotto, Josh Knox, Teri Shore and I marched in turtle costumes, infiltrated inside the WTO with official delegate status, and protested in the streets. It was an intense and exciting few days, and I never imagined that nearly 10 years later it would be made into a Hollywood movie!
As many of you know, there were hundreds of activists dressed in turtle costumes. The mastermind of this guerilla theatre was my friend, the late Ben White, who organized scores of sewing bees in Seattle over many months to literally create a bus load of costumes. I salute you Ben White. Your spirit lives on.
So, what was the Battle of Seattle all about? From our perspective, the WTO is an organization made up of faceless, unelected trade bureaucrats, that meets in secret behind closed doors - and whose mantra of "free trade" is a threat to our democracy…
How is it a threat? Under WTO mind-speak, nations must "harmonize" laws to create so-called "free" trade -or another words lower the standards of protection to that of the worst polluters or human rights violators.
This means the WTO can over-rule our democratic process declaring our hard-fought environmental, labor, & public health laws a violation of free trade.
I ask YOU·Do we have a right to keep products out of our marketplace that are made by child & slave labor?
· Do we have a right to keep shrimp caught in ways that unnecessarily drowns hundreds of thousands of endangered sea turtles in from being sold in the US?
Not according to the WTO!
Which is exactly how sea turtles and the WTO came into conflict. Under the Endangered Species Act, there is a provision called the turtle-shrimp law, which requires nations who wish to import their shrimp into the US to use a simple device to keep endangered sea turtles from drowning. It's called a Turtle Excluder Device or TED.
The turtle-shrimp import law was not being enforced until we sued the US government. Once it was enforced, four Asian nations challenged the law at the WTO calling it a violation of free trade-and the WTO ruled in their favor.
This was the first case of the WTO attempting to overturn the environmental laws of a sovereign nation- It was the first concrete example of how trade laws were trumping common sense environmental protection. At first the Clinton administration was ready to weaken the Endangered Species Act to appease the WTO, but we organized opposition from virtually every major environmental organization, and the US government finally agreed to appeal.
The Battle of Seattle protests, compelled the WTO to back down and it overturned its earlier ruling.
The Sea Turtle Restoration Project was honored to play our role at the battle of Seattle. We hung a banner inside the WTO meetings; we marched in the streets and blocked entranceways, we organized scientist opposition, and we joined the labor march with the chant of "Turtles and Teamsters United." We sent out scores of press releases, did hundreds of media interviews, and purchased full-page newspaper ads and billboards.
But the battle is not over. Globalization still threatens our oceans and their marine inhabitants. For example swordfish and tuna, caught in ways that kill sea turtles, dolphins and whales…, is today shipped overnight around the world… being taken from waters used by impoverished communities and shipped to the US and wealthynations to meet our luxury needs.
And thus we're still fighting to protect our oceans and our laws.
So enjoy the movie, but join us in the struggle for democracy, healthy oceans and healthy communities-- and never underestimate turtle power!
Viva La Tortuga!
Galveston Turtle Barn Survives Hurricane
Posted by Teri Shore on September 18th, 2008
News from Galveston, TX: The sea turtle facility in Galveston, TX, operated by National Marine Fisheries Service survived the onslaught of Hurricane Ike. While much of Galveston was wiped out by wind, rain and waves, the "Turtle Barn" that houses 200 loggerheads and a few Kemp's ridleys survived the storm. It is located about a block behind the seawall.
"It was a good thing, as that's what protected them," said Carole Allen in Houston, Gulf of Mexico Director of Sea Turtle Restoration Project.
There have been no reports of sea turtles stranded or otherwise harmed by Hurricane Ike in the Galveston area as of Sept. 18, 2008. The nesting season is over and the South Texas Coast and Padre Island National Seashore were not hit by the hurricane.
Carole's own home in Houston was not damaged, but a tree took down power lines in her backyard, which she describes as a "jungle." She said that she as well as a million and a half other people are without power in Houston at least through the weekend. Fortunately, one of Carole's neighbors has been helping out by lending generators to her and others for a few hours a day.
"The neighbors have been wonderful," she said.
Elsewhere in the city, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and FEMA have set up centers where Texans can fill up on ice, water and food.
Leatherbacks Gathering off California Coast
Posted by Mike Milne on September 16th, 2008
|(c) Doug Perrine/seapics.com|
Pacific leatherbacks are gathering off the coast to feed on California’s super abundance of jellyfish. Leatherbacks have been sighted swimming in the shipping lanes and the 'precautionary area' off San Francisco Bay, off the San Mateo coastline, and farther south in Monterey Bay. N.O.A.A. researchers currently at sea studying these enigmatic animals have called this season a “boomer summer/fall for leatherbacks off the central California coast.” The leatherbacks currently feeding off the California coast have migrated across the Pacific Ocean from their nesting beaches in Indonesia.
Leatherbacks are one of the world’s largest reptiles averaging ~ 800 lbs, but are essentially “gelatinavores,” who eat almost exclusively jellyfish (and other gelatinous organisms that drift in the ocean)! Leatherbacks are most likely to be spotted in areas with large numbers of jellyfish. Scientists believe that large sea nettles are the leatherback’s favorite jellyfish.
If you’re on the water off the California coast and spot a leatherback, please send us an email! If you have photos, we'll post it!
Get the latest word from N.O.A.A. about leatherbacks off the California coast
Kemp's ridley donations closing on the goal!
Posted by Carole Allen on September 4th, 2008
Gulf Office of STRP
A few weeks ago, it looked as though the funding for the 2009 beach patrols on the upper Texas coast would be short by $50,000. This deficit would eliminate many important patrols of trained individuals looking for Kemp's ridley sea turtle nesters and hatchlings.
But something amazing happened! A prominent Houston attorney who owns a home in the Galveston area decided that he would take action to restore the funding. The idea that the patrols would be cut disgusted Mr. Joe Jamail, well known in many courtrooms.
He challenged sea turtle conservationists to match his personal contribution of $25,000 which would restore the amount needed for the 2009 patrolling season. The good news is that the goal of an additional $25,000 has almost been met. STRP members came up with almost $3,000 as have members of the Houston Zoo. Many other contributions, large and small, have been pouring into the Galveston campus of Texas A&M University.
We are grateful and appreciative for the interest of so many people who understand the need for patrols on the upper Texas coast now that a nesting population of Kemp's ridleys is calling it home. Thanks to everyone!
Warming Oceans Challenge the Pacific Leatherback's Survival
Posted by Mike on August 8th, 2008
Recent scientific evidence shows climate change is changing the fundamental biology of Pacific leatherback turtles--not tomorrow, but today--and making these 100-million-year-old sea turtles more vulnerable to longline and drift gillnet fisheries.
A new study released on the Pacific leatherbacks in Costa Rica suggests that warmer oceans and more frequent EL Nino events--which are thought to be one consequence of climate change--may further complicate the species' recovery. Leading sea turtle biologists report that warmer ocean waters have caused female leatherbacks to nest less frequently and take more time to reach sexual maturity. The scientists believe that warmer water's reduced oceanic productivity is to blame.
Why is this important? Simply because if leatherbacks nest less frequently than before, the turtles will have to survive for a longer period of time in the ocean before reproducing. In short, leatherbacks will have to spend more time running a gauntlet of hooks and nets just to avoid extinction.
Commercial longline fisheries and government decision-makers must respond to this new reality. We now have direct scientific evidence that global warming makes the consequences of by-catch an even graver threat to the Pacific leatherback. It is time to remodel our existing policy frameworks to respond to this new threat.
Click below to read the study:
"Changed reproductive schedule of eastern Pacific leatherback
turtles Dermochelys coriacea following the 1997–98 El Nino to La Nina
Georgia Sea Turtle Nests Up, Strandings Down - Shrimpers Take a Bow
Posted by Teri Shore on August 7th, 2008
Not only are loggerhead nests nearing a record-high in Georgia, far fewer dead sea turtles are washing up on shore. Read the Jacksonville newspaper article.
No doubt there are many reasons for this, but I suppose some of the credit should be given to Georgia shrimpers who we worked with about 10 years ago with our certified turtle-safe shrimp program. Those family based shrimpers were dedicated to protecting sea turtles by using Turtle Excluder Devices. One shrimper in particular, Sinkey Boone, argued for years that the holes in the TEDs needed to be bigger -- and years later the federal fishery managers finally did it.
Perhaps far less trawlers are out there shrimping today due to fuel costs and competition from imports, but my sense is that the Georgia shrimper's early embrace of TEDs has made a big difference.
So now 10 years later, and knowing that sea turtles take decades to
mature and return to nest, it seems that the responsible shrimpers
should take a bow.
Hawaii Longline Fisheries Death Toll Goes Beyond Sea Turtles
Posted by Mike Milne on August 4th, 2008
The fact that the Hawaii swordfish and tuna longline fisheries ensnare many imperiled leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles is well documented. The impact of the Hawaiian longline fisheries on other species--such as whales, other marine mammals like dolphins, sea birds, and other marine wildlife--also deserves our attention and close scrutiny.
Every three months, the National Marine Fisheries Service releases figures on the previous quarters by-catch--species that are unintentionally caught in fishermens' lines or nets. The by-catch numbers are collected and tabulated from the records of on-board observers that document the by-catch of the fishing boats. Last quarter, there were observers on 100% of the swordfish boats--a regulation that is the product of Sea Turtle Restoration Project's 2001 lawsuit against the Hawaii swordfish fishery--but observers on only 33% of the tuna vessels. The result are disturbing.
Hawaii’s vessel observer reports also show that longline fisheries may
have already caught as many as 3 humpback whales, 7 false killer
whales, 3 Pygmy Sperm whales, 3 shortfinned pilot whales, 3 spotted
dolphins, 4 Risso’s dophins, 4 leatherback sea turtles, and 3 green sea
turtles in 2008
Hawaii’s longline fisheries have proven to be particularly deadly for vulnerable seabirds this year. According to NMFS, 25 Black-footed Albatrosses were killed in the last three months between April 1–June 30, 2008. In the entire years of 2005, 2006, or 2007, only 12, 17, and 14 Black-footed Albatross, respectively, were killed in the deep-set longline fishery. This troubling rise could not come a worse possible time since an endangered species listing is pending for the Black-Footed Albatross under the Endangered Species Act (in response to STRP's 2003 petition).
The dramatic loss of marine life comes at a time when federal fishery managers plan to expand Hawaii’s longline fishery. The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council has published plans to dramatically expand the swordfish fishery by eliminating limits on fishing effort and increase the allowed capture of loggerhead sea turtles from 17 to 46 loggerheads, an increase of 270%. Their proposal would gut two key regulations designed to mitigate the impacts of the swordfish fishery when it was re-opened in 2001.
The Sea Turtle Restoration Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, and other groups are working together to make sure that the Hawaii longline fishery is not allowed to expand and increase it's death toll on sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and sea birds. We'll let you know when and how you can speak up to oppose this destructive fishery!
Changes Needed for the Kemp's Ridleys!
Posted by Carole H. Allen, Gulf Office Director on
The last 2008 Kemp's ridley nest found on the Texas coast was marked by hatchlings coming from a nest on Bolivar Peninsula no one had seen before trying to get to the Gulf. In the process, several were run over and killed. This points out the fact that more patrols and
much more public awareness are needed. Representing thousands of citizens who have
supported the recovery of the Kemp's ridley sea turtle for 30 years, the Sea
Turtle Restoration Project asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide
funding and staffing for patrols and protection of nesters and hatchlings. We
have been very fortunate that the Galveston facility of National Marine
Fisheries Service has stretched its manpower to respond to calls from the
public regarding sea turtles from the Louisiana border to Freeport. With the
obvious increase in Kemp's ridley nesters, they must have help. We also request
that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department assist in providing research funds for
more patrolling on the upper Texas coast. Of the 193 nests found this year
on the Texas Coast, 91 of them were located at the Padre Island National
massive daily patrol program provided by federal staff and volunteers at the
Padre Island National Seashore has proven once again that more vigilance results
in finding more sea turtles and their nests and keeping them safe. It is time for the upper Texas Coast to receive equal attention from
both federal and state agencies.
High Gas Prices May Save Ocean Ecosystems
Posted by Todd Steiner on July 14th, 2008
The rising cost of fuel is shifting the tide for marine biodiversity in a way that few politicians have had the courage to do. The past few years have produced front-page cover stories in newspapers and magazines lamenting the demise of the ocean’s bounty caused by overfishing, but few lawmakers are willing to address the fundamental root cause of overfishing, which is simply put, too many vessels chasing too few fish.
But there are some new headlines that may help:
“Japan to cut long-line tuna fishing operations ”
Fuel costs keep fishing US boats tied to the docks”
“E. Asia fleets to suspend tuna fishing / Fuel costs hit Japan, China, ROK, Taiwan”
Even before gas prices spiked this year, the economics of chasing fish with industrial-size vessels, especially on the high seas, has only “succeeded” because it has been propped up by an estimated $54 billion in annual subsidies, including discounted fuel costs.
A 2004 study by professor Peter Tyedmers in the Encyclopedia of Energy compares the material and petroleum energy required to power a wide variety of industrial fishing vessels with the energy contained in the harvested edible fish protein. Tyedmers concludes, “it is now common for direct fossil fuel energy inputs alone to exceed nutritional energy embodied in the catch by at least an order of magnitude.” Shrimp, tuna and swordfish are at the top of the list for the worse offenders when it comes to “edible protein return on investment.” Specifically, Tyedmers lists longlining as the least efficient technology.
It may be coincidental, but fishing for tuna, swordfish and shrimp are also the fisheries that kill the most sea turtles, and longlining fishing is strongly implicated in pushing the Pacific leatherback to the brink of extinction.
If you need another reason to question the wisdom of destroying marine biodiversity by industrial fishing that uses more energy than it produces in edible protein, don’t forget that swordfish and tuna are also high in toxic mercury. Eating it is hazardous to your health, especially if you are a woman of child bearing age or a child.
High fuel prices offers politicians an opportunity to reduce fishing effort by helping many of the fishers find alternative employment. The worst thing that could happen would be a knee-jerk reaction to provide fisher with additional fuel subsidies.
STRP will be closely monitoring and opposing nany political attempt to “bail out” fishers by providing them with cheaper fuel. If we want to help fishers, the oceans and ourselves, we need to find alternatives for fishers, not help them catch the last fish and kill the last sea turtle.
Kemp's Ridley Nests Break All Records on the Texas Coast!
Posted by Carole Allen on July 9th, 2008
Gulf Office Director
The nesting season of the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles has drawn to a close in a remarkable fashion. Records show that 190 Kemp's ridley nests have been confirmed on the Texas coast including (north to south in state): Bolivar Peninsula 5 Galveston Island 6 Brazoria County, just north of Surfside 1 Surfside Beach 2 Quintana Beach 1 Matagorda Island 13 San Jose Island 4 Mustang Island 5 North Padre Island 102, including 91 at Padre Island National Seashore South Padre Island 40 Boca Chica Beach 11
The 190 nest total exceeds the previous record of 128 Kemp's ridley nests found in Texas set during 2007. This marks the fifth consecutive year that record numbers of Kemp's ridley nests have been recorded in Texas since record keeping began in 1980.
So far this year, 2 green sea turtle nest has been confirmed on the Texas coast with one found at the Padre Island National Seashore and one at South Padre Island.
One leatherback sea turtle nest has been confirmed on the Texas coast at the Padre Island National Seashore setting a record of being the first nest found on the Texas coast in 30 years.
The annual Texas/federal closure of shrimping which began May 15 will end July 15, 30 minutes after sundown. Texas Parks and Wildlife states that "the purpose of the closed Gulf season is to protect brown shrimp during their major period of emigration from the bays to the Gulf of Mexico until they reach a larger, more valuable size before harvest and to prevent waste caused by the discarding of smaller individuals."
The closure also benefits sea turtles migrating, foraging and nesting in Texas waters. Sea Turtle Restoration Project has asked NOAA's law enforcement branch to board shrimp boats and look for any boats not using Turtle Excluder Devices from July 15 on. Shrimp boats from the entire Gulf come to Texas when the closure ends and puts sea turtles at further risk.
Tagging sharks in Cocos Island
Posted by Randall Arauz on
|Allan Bolaños, Randall Arauz, German Soler and Alex Hearn, tagging a silky shark in Cocos|
I recently returned from a trip to Cocos Island, tagging sharks. Since 2005, PRETOMA and TIRN have been tagging sharks in Cocos Island with acoustic telemetry. This type of tag is attached to sharks by shooting a dart with a tether into the flesh under the dorsal fin, by means of a spear gun. However, during our last expedition, accompanied by researchers from Colombia (Sandra Bessudo and German Soler) and Ecuador (Alex Hearn) we also attached a satellite tag to a silky shark. I want to share this picture with you, because in order to satellite tag a shark, we actually need to catch it, deck it, drill holes in the dorsal fin and attach the transmitter. PRETOMA did this type of work in 2005, assisting researchers from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center NOAA, but this is the first time we are actually doing it as main researchers.
During our next expedition in March 2009, we will be doing more of both tagging methods on sharks, and we will be satellite tracking green turtles too. And guess what? You can actually join us! You can either pay the full rate of going to Cocos Island and doing up to 4 dives a day for 7 days in one of the most fascinating shark sites, for slightly less than $5K, or you can purchase a raffle ticket for $100, and hey maybe you are lucky!