West Coast turtles face longline threat

Endangered turtle species off the West Coast of the US – including the Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle – could be under threat with the potential removal of conservation measures when two sub-groups of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council meet later this week.

The regulator will be discussing the re-introduction of longline fishing and removal of restrictions on gillnets, both of which pose a serious danger to turtles and other highly sensitive marine species.

The longline ban was brought in originally by the NOAA Fisheries agency in response to lawsuits by environmentalists who proved the destructiveness of the practice.

“These rules are crucial for protecting the leatherback and other marine species from being injured or killed by gillnets and longlines. Eliminating rather than strengthening protections for these critically endangered turtles would be a huge and possibly irreversible mistake,” said Todd Steiner, Executive Director of Sea Turtle Restoration Project.

Experts have warned that the Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle could become extinct in the region in as little as five to thirty years without considerable protective measures.

“There is no excuse for taking a step back on restricting the use of gillnets or longlines. The first ones to pay the price for allowing more of these curtains of death will be sea turtles and other endangered marine wildlife,” commented Robert Ovetz, PhD, Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project.

Source:Green Consumer Guide (www.greenconsumerguide.com)