For Immediate Release
Conservationists Raise Alarm Over Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Nesting Numbers
Nesting Turtles Plummet by 84 Percent
Honolulu (September 6, 2016) – On the heels of the expansion of Hawaii’s Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, new information released by federal researchers reveals a dangerous drop in the number of nesting Hawaiian green sea turtles. According to the NOAA Marine Turtle Biology and Assessment Program, nesting green sea turtle numbers dropped 84 percent compared to last year. Now, Turtle Island Restoration Network (seaturtles.org), a leading ocean and marine conservation organization, is calling for urgent actions to reduce all mortality of green sea turtles, including in industrial fishing operations such as longlining.
“An 84 percent decline should trigger emergency actions to protect green sea turtles,” said Peter Fugazzotto, Strategic Programs Director with Turtle Island Restoration. “Number one on that list should be reducing adult mortality from industrial fishing. With this recent information, we cannot afford the death of even one more green sea turtle,” he added.
NOAA researchers spent more than two months monitoring green sea turtles within the French Frigate Shoals, where more than 90 percent of all Hawaiian green sea turtles nest. This year they counted just 88 turtles compared to 492 last year.
Earlier this month, Turtle Island released a report on the impacts of sea level rise on major sea turtle nesting beaches worldwide and highlighted French Frigate Shoals as an especially high-priority site because of its low elevation and the extreme nesting concentration. Turtle Island is advocating for the re-establishment of a secondary major nesting colony to spread the risk.
Turtle Island also is calling for efforts to reduce to zero the impact of longline fishing on sea turtles.
In 2015, Hawaiian-based deep set longline fishery killed an estimated 5 green sea turtles (based on an extrapolation of ~20 percent observer coverage). Through June 2016, an estimated 5 green sea turtles already have been killed.
“While researchers try to determine whether this nesting decline is related to a population decline, common sense dictates a precautionary approach,” said Fugazzotto. “That approach is one that greatly reduces the death of adult green sea turtles.”
Read Turtle Island’s report on the climate change and the impact to nesting sea turtle populations here: https://seaturtles.org/deadlywaters
Turtle Island Restoration Network works to mobilize people and communities around the world to protect marine wildlife, the oceans and the inland waterways that sustain them. Join us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. SeaTurtles.Org