Prominent Scientists Join Call for UN Moratorium on Longline Fishing
705 International Scientists from 83 countries Have Signed
According to the statement, “An International Call by Leading Scientists to Reverse the Pacific Leatherback's Extinction Trajectory,” the scientists warn that “The Pacific leatherback sea turtle is at the top of the list of species being driven to the brink of extinction by increased efforts of global industrial fishing.” Also impacted are about 4.4 million sharks, seabirds, billfish and marine mammals maimed and killed by longlines in the Pacific each year.
“Sea Turtles are endangered everywhere. Unless there is a concerted effort by all the groups and individuals who care, the Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle is almost certainly doomed to extinction. And these efforts would be greatly strengthened by the support of the United Nations,” said Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, in a prepared statement to the press. “How tragic it would be if future generations know these wonderful animals only from photographs and films.”
The female nesting population of highly migratory leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean has collapsed by 95 per cent since 1980. Eminent scientists warn that the leatherback could go extinct in 5-30 years unless the threat from longline fishing is reduced. Because sea turtles are migratory, traveling thousands of miles each year to nest, an international solution is needed.
The UN General Assembly passed a resolution last November calling for prohibitions of destructive fishing practices. The first place to start, according to the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, is by implementing a moratorium on longline fishing. In the past, the UN has banned destructive fishing methods, such as through the international moratorium on high seas driftnetting.
The petitions, originally submitted to the UN in February 2003 with the names of 413 international scientists and 113 NGOs, have not yet received a formal response from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The scientist petition is available here.
The Sea Turtle Restoration Project is a California-based marine conservation organization that works to protect sea turtles and other marine species in the United States and in countries around the world. For more information, visit: seaturtles.org and savetheleatherback.com.
Robert Ovetz, coordinator of the Save the Leatherback Campaign, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This story was published on February 2, 2005.