|Loggerhead diving; Doug Perrine photo|
More than 2,800 sea turtle advocates and 17 ocean conservation groups so far are opposing the eco-labeling of the Florida longline fishery for tuna and swordfish. Letters and petitions were submitted by Sea Turtle Restoration Project to the first stakeholder meeting in the Marine Stewardship Council certification process held today in Miami, Florida. Download letter and see/sign the petition.
Program Director Teri Shore joined the meeting remotely and explained to the fishery assessment team and commercial fishers with DayBoat Seafood that the timing for certification was poor because: 1) Loggerhead sea turtles are being considered for uplisting to endangered now due to accidental capture on longlines and in other fisheries, and 2) The Gulf oil spill has devastated loggerhead habitat in the Gulf and thousands of hatchlings are being released now along the Florida coast -- making it even more vital to the survival of the species.
STRP had already provided documentation of the high levels of loggerheads and leatherbacks caught in the fishery and in the fishing zone that the company wants to certify as sustainable and eco-friendly.
We learned today that Whole Foods is the main driver behind the certification. The corporation is funding the expensive assessment because they already buy lots of turtle-deadly swordfish and want to market it to their customers as a green fishery. It appears that these forces are not particularly concerned with slowing the process due to sea turtle harm, but we will continue to present the scientific data that tells the true story of sea turtle decline and death in pelagic longline fisheries.