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On May 22, 2008, California Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and the Sea Turtle Restoration Project introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 62 requesting the National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS)--the federal agency responsible for managing the nation's fisheries--deny or delay consideration of new West Coast swordfish longlining permits until critical habitat is designated for the Pacific leatherback and the federal status of loggerhead sea turtles is clarified.
California has historically protected the sea turtles from longline fishermen. A commercial longline industry has never existed in the CA Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Swordfish longline fishing has been prohibited within the California EEZ since 1977 and in 1992, the California Fish and Game Commission banned all longline fishing in the EEZ. AJR 62 reaffirms the state's commitment to protecting vulnerable populations of leatherbacks and loggerhead sea turtles in the face of dangerous federal proposals to allow swordfish longlining.
On May 28, 2008, momentum built for AJR 62 as national and local ocean advocacy organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity, the Ocean Conservancy, and Friends of the Earth expressed their support for AJR 62 in a letter to state legislators. As the process moves forward, we'll keep you posted on the latest efforts to pass the resolution in the California legislature.