Endangered Turtles Saved from Fishery

An agreement between environmental groups and the federal government should protect endangered Pacific loggerhead turtles from the swordfishing industry. Last year 46 endangered Pacific loggerhead turtles were hooked on longlines intended for swordfish in Hawaii. While this may not sound like a significant number, their population has declined 80 percent in just two decades. (Pacific leatherback turtles declined 95 percent in the same  period.)

Vessels targeting swordfish pull miles of fishing line and floats with hundreds or thousands of baited hooks in the ocean. Sea turtles sometimes go for the bait and get hooked or become caught up in the many nearly transparent lines. Pacific loggerheads are currently at risk of extinction, according to the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. They also say thousands of these turtles are caught off the coasts of Japan and Mexico and in open ocean. (They migrate to Japan for nesting, stopping in Hawaii, and then return to Baja California and Mexico.) After highseas driftnets were banned in 1991, longline fishing vessels from many nations set over 3 million hooks on 100,000 miles of longline every day, according to an article from the University of Hawaii.

The Center for Biological Diversity had to file a complaint in federal court to prohibit the increase of Pacific loggerhead bycatch, meaning turtles that are accidentally caught when vessels are trying to capture swordfish. The federal government’s loggerhead restoration plan acknowledged the impact of commercial swordfish catches: “A primary threat to the species in the Pacific is from the incidental mortalities associated with commercial fisheries, particularly longline and net fisheries. This threat must be minimized for recovery of this species.”

Swordfish contain mercury, enough that the EPA has suggested women and small children do not eat any. A  recent study in California found swordfish and tuna from restaurants and grocery stores contained three times the limit established by the government as acceptable.

Seabirds, humpback whales and false killer whales also can become entangled in the lines. As many as 100,000 Albatross might be killed each year from longline fishing. (The video below shows the threats from commercial fishing to the pacific loggerheads when they are in Mexican waters.)

Related:
242 Sea Turtles Rescued from Cold Water
No More Animal Testing at Lipton Tea

Petition: Save the Loggerhead Sea Turtle

70 comments

Debrahanna Esposito

I am so glad it was saved, we need to take care of all our endangered species!!

Emily Chiasson
Emily Chiasson5 years ago

i love sea turtles! its wonderful that they were saved :)

Rita De Ferrary
Rita De Ferrary5 years ago

In man-unkind's wanton desire to make money IT is destroying our host, Planet Earth.

It is worthwhile to note that the major destruction has been done in a mere blink planet time, perhaps the last 30 years. I can remember when artisanal fishermen came back in canoes with red snapper, mahi mahi, and others. untilm their Caribbean governments sold them out for a 2x4 cold storage house on a dock. Now huge foreign fleets rape the Caribbean of all its natural riches for a pittance payoff to government officials.
When will people open their eyes? When they look around and it is ALL gone. As the saying goes you won't miss the water until the well runs dry.
A sad epitaph for a once lovely planet before human-unkinds arrival.

Deanna Shoemaker Cabrera
Deanna Shoemaker5 years ago

They're figuring it out. That's great news.

mari s.
Mari S.5 years ago

It's so sad to hear or read about damage being perpetrated by humans, whether intentionally or not -- animals everywhere are either suffering or are being killed due to shameless and ignorant negligence. I'm thankful that animal organizations are watching closely and doing everything to put a permanent stop to the fishing industry's activities.

brigitte hurford

This type of longline fishing is destructive on so many levels. I would like to see an end to long line fishing and it to be replaced by a fairer and discriminate method and one that does not take everything in its path .....

Lynn C.
Lynn C.5 years ago

And who will be policing them?

Julie W.
Julie W.5 years ago

Swordfish are also an endangered species. So the fish and the turtles are both under threat. I refuse to eat swordfish.

Elsie Au
Elsie Au5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Catsy D.
Catsy D.5 years ago

thank you