A new scientific report, entitled A Ban on Plastic Bags Will Save the Lives of Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles, is now available in advance of the California Senate’s vote on AB 1998, which would ban grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores from handing out single-use plastic bags at the checkout. The bill is scheduled to for discussion and voting in August, 2010. The Sea Turtle Restoration Project, project partners and volunteers are promoting AB 1998 at several events throughout California this month!
Californian residents can click here to send a letter to their Senator and the Governor in support of AB 1998.
The report outlines the severe threat of plastic bags to endangered sea turtles, especially the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles that use the California coast for feeding and migration. Leatherbacks mistake floating plastic bags for its favorite food, jellyfish. The report cites many scientific studies, including one that concludes that one third of adult leatherbacks have ingested plastic, many with fatal consequences.
“California can lead the nation in stopping the free distribution of plastic bags at retail stores,” said Dr. Chris Pincetich, STRP’s marine biologist and author of the report. “Passing the plastic bag ban bill would be a great first step toward reducing ocean plastic pollution that kills endangered sea turtles.”
A Ban on Plastic Bags Will Save the Lives of Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles
The ocean along the California Coast is a critical feeding area for the highly endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). Leatherbacks consume hundreds of jellyfish each day during summer and fall foraging, and can easily mistake floating plastic bags for their favorite food. A published study concluded that one third of adult leatherbacks have ingested plastic and that plastic ingestion by leatherbacks is now common. Pacific leatherback populations have declined 95% in the last two decades, so it is critical to identify and reduce threats to their health and survival. The proposed legislative ban on plastic bags in AB 1998 would save the lives of countless endangered leatherback sea turtles feeding off the California coast.