Extinction, Survival or Recovery – The Sea Turtle As Harbinger of the State of Humanity

By January 11, 2010Sea Turtles

TIRN/STRP Executive Director Todd Steiner and legal expert Andrea Treece from Center for Biological Diversity will join David Occhiuto for a conversation about the status of sea turtles a New York Public Radio Station WBAI. Learn more about the program here or read below for information from the radio station’s website.

Our oceans are home to seven species of sea turtles. These wide-ranging
and mysterious creatures are present throughout the world’s tropical
and temperate waters. Six of the seven turtle species are listed as
threatened or endangered under the U. S. Endangered Species Act. The
systematic pillaging of our fragile ocean ecosystem by high seas
industrial longlining continues to inflict the most devastating impacts
on sea turtles and other marine life. What are the real impediments to
marine protection and restoration? How can progressive social and
political forces work to ensure ocean eco-system restoration and real,
enduring protections?

Read more about the organizations at:http://seaturtles.org//index.php

For info on January 13th/nationwide action to show President Obama
unwavering support for sea turtles, salmon, and healthy oceans:


Public comments needed on proposed rule to protect 70,000 Square Miles
of habitat for Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles:

Suit Filed to Stop Hawaii Longline Fishery From Tripling Sea Turtle

Background information:

The leatherback sea turtle has become a harbinger for the overall
health of the oceans and the survival of human society. Having
survived dinosaurs and countless other species over the past 100
million years, the Pacific leatherback’s nesting population has
declined by 95 percent since 1980, primarily as a result of industrial
longline “fishing” (which occurs close to the surface where turtles
spend most of their time), pollution, poaching of eggs, and the destruction of habitat by unchecked development. As a result, the near extinction of the Pacific leatherback can be seen as an exemplary case study of the drastic threats to our ocean
environment, marine species and our own future.

Many of the island nations of the Western and Central Pacific have
developed unique cultures interwoven with the ocean, fish and other
living creatures that are crucial to their self-awareness of their
place in the world, their origins, spirituality and unique
socio-economic subsistence-based ways of life. The rapid depletion of
not only large predatory fish but also associated species, such as sea
turtles and cetaceans by industrial longlining threaten the very
existence of their ways of life.

The Pacific Ocean has become a silent minefield of millions of hooks
threaded along nearly invisible monofilament lines stretching far into
the horizon. Each day, about 12,000 victims, including whales,
dolphins, seabirds, billfish, sea turtles and sharks, are pointlessly
injured and killed by these ocean mines. Longline fishing vessels
cruise the surface for 25 to 100 kilometers spooling mainlines, floats,
branchlines and hooks into the water. Between 500 and 3,000 baited
hooks hang from the mainlines. Radio transmitters, light sticks,
ribbons and other implements also may be added. All of this gear drifts
overnight or all day in the ocean and is then hauled in along with
everything that has been hooked or entangled on the lines. Although
longlines are used to target a number of different fish species, they
are most lucratively used to catch tuna, swordfish and shark. Because
longlining has a low degree of selectivity, a significant and growing
part of the catch of a targeted longline fishery is “bycatch” that is
either thrown back, finned, or commercialized which puts additional
pressures on already depleted fisheries.

Sea turtles are one of the non-target species most vulnerable to
longlines. Some sea turtle species (such as loggerheads, olive ridleys
and greens) swallow the longline bait and swallow the hook, or are caught
in the mouth. Hooked or entangled, often held underwater by longline
gear – unable to reach the surface to breathe – they drown. Those that
are hauled up before drowning, if they are not killed or kept for meat,
may be released with serious trauma and injuries making them vulnerable
to being caught again later or dying from their wounds. The use of
longlines in the US remained insignificant until a combination of
factors — new permitting for swordfishing, technological advances in
engine power and refrigeration, expansion of subsidies, credit and
financing, and a ban on high seas driftnets longer than 2.5 kilometers
— led many industrial vessels to switch over to longlining…
(excerpts from: ‘Striplining the Pacific: The Case for a United Nations
Moratorium on High Seas Industrial Longline Fishing’ published in 2005
by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project ). To download STRP’s report
‘Striplining the Pacific’: