Please contact me if you are interested in participating (202.833.3900 or email email@example.com) Check out www.oceana.org/seaturtles to Sign Up or for more info! This event is in the Dc metro area.
What: A demonstration to mourn the loss of the hundreds of sea turtle who die every year because of destructive fishing practices.
When: November 2nd, 2005 4-5pm
Where: Silver Spring, Md.- At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) headquarters across from the Silver Spring metro stop.
Who We Are: Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world's oceans. Our teams of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope, Oceana has campaigners based in North America (Washington, DC; Juneau, AK; Los Angeles, CA), Europe (Madrid, Spain; Brussels, Belgium) and South America (Santiago, Chile). More than 300,000 members and e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana. www.oceana.org
Background: All sea turtle species in the oceans off the United States are considered endangered or threatened. The biggest human threats to sea turtles in the ocean are destructive fishing practices, such as bottom trawl gear, gillnets and pelagic longline gear. In particular, loggerhead, Kempís ridley and green sea turtles get caught in scallop dredge gear in the mid-Atlantic, as they annually migrate along the coast to summer feeding grounds off Southern New England. The Atlantic pelagic longline fishery stretches from New England through the Gulf of Mexico and is where swordfish, tuna and sharks are caught. This fishery sets thousands of baited hooks each day on lines reaching up to 40 miles long, which threatens loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles because they become hooked or entangled on the line. Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act, but the government isnít using common sense to protect them.
In 2004, the government reported the scallop industry caught an estimated 749 turtles, killing over 400 of them. The scallop industry responded to the problem by putting heavy metal chains at the mouth of these dredges to stop turtles from entering. While we appreciate the scallop industryís efforts to solve this problem, the ďturtle chainsĒ have not been fully tested so the effects of turtles swimming into them are unknown. No one knows if the turtles are harmed or killed when they hit the chains and since itís underwater, itís out of sight. So, fishermen can say that theyíre not catching sea turtles, but we have no idea exactly how this new technology is actually affecting the sea turtles.
In the pelagic longline fishery, the government conducted a three-year study on the best type of hook to use in the longline fishery to minimize turtle captures. The study indicated that using large circle hooks (18/0 size) reduced turtle interactions by 65-90%. Despite their own study, the government is only requiring that the fishery use smaller circle hooks (16/0 size). Research shows this alternative doesnít reduce interactions with sea turtles at all.
The Answer: In the scallop fishery, Oceana proposes that the government study turtle chains underwater to ensure turtles arenít receiving mortal wounds. Seasonal closures and a minimal of 50% at-sea observer coverage (scientists who ride on-board commercial fishing boats tracking what is caught, kept or thrown back into the ocean) should also be enforced by the government. In the longline fishery, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) should require that the Atlantic longline fishery use the large size circle hooks.
What To Do: These are just two examples of how the government is failing to protect endangered and threatened sea turtles. This fall, during the sea turtle migratory season, Oceana wants to draw attention to these destructive fishing practices. Join Oceana in our public demonstration on November 2, 2005, at 4:00 p.m. outside the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationís (NOAA) Silver Spring offices where the federal officials who bear the responsibility of protecting sea turtles from destructive fishing work. Please call Val or Ben at 202-833-3900. To learn about Oceana go to www.oceana.org .
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