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Prominent Scientists Join Call For UN Moratorium on Longline Fishing

1007 International Scientists from 93 countries Have Signed
World renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, has added her voice to 1007 international scientists from 93 countries who are urging the UN to implement a moratorium on longline fishing in the Pacific Ocean to prevent the extinction of the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle. The scientists are joined by 282 non-governmental organizations from 60 countries. The list of signers includes biologist E.O. Wilson, oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, and former U.S. astronaut Bernard Harris, Jr. M.D.

According to the statement, “An International Call by Leading Scientists to Reverse the Pacific Leatherback’s Extinction Trajectory,” the scientists warn that “The Pacific leatherback sea turtle is at the top of the list of species being driven to the brink of extinction by increased efforts of global industrial fishing.” Also impacted are about 4.4 million sharks, seabirds, billfish and marine mammals maimed and killed by longlines in the Pacific each year.

“Sea Turtles are endangered everywhere. Unless there is a concerted effort by all the groups and individuals who care, the Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle is almost certainly doomed to extinction. And these efforts would be greatly strengthened by the support of the United Nations,” said Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE. “How tragic it would be if future generations know these wonderful animals only from photographs and films.”

The female nesting population of highly migratory leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean has collapsed by 95 per cent since 1980. Eminent scientists warn that the leatherback could go extinct in 5-30 years unless we reduce the threat from longline fishing. Because sea turtles are migratory, traveling thousands of miles each year to nest, an international solution is needed.

“The UN General Assembly passed a resolution last November calling for prohibitions of destructive fishing practices. The first place to start is by implementing a moratorium on longline fishing,” suggests Robert Ovetz, PhD, Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator. In the past, the UN has banned destructive fishing methods, such as through the international moratorium on high seas driftnetting.

The petitions, originally submitted to the UN in February 2003 with the names of 413 international scientists and 113 NGOs, have not yet received a formal response from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Leatherback Resources:
Review copy of the documentary “Last Journey for the Leatherback?” is available upon request
B-roll video footage is available upon request
The scientist petition is available at:
click here
The NGO petition is available at:
click here

Press packet is available upon request