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STRP Weighs In on the California Ocean Protection Council’s “Climate Change Adaptation Strategy”

As the climate warms and the effects of climate change become more pronounced, STRP has stepped up efforts to mitigate the negative consequences for California’s sea turtles.  This past week, STRP submitted comments to the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) on their draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.  In our letter, we advocated for an increasingly precautionary approach to fishery management in the West Coast Exclusive Economic Zone—the ocean waters between 3-200 miles from shore.

Commercial fisheries and government policy-makers need to respond to a new reality: global warming makes the consequences of fishery by-catch an even graver threat to the Pacific leatherback and Pacific loggerhead.  The effects of climate change are likely to introduce greater scientific uncertainty into population viability analyses as scientists struggle to assess changing sea turtle habitats, reproductive success, and population resiliency.

What does this mean?  We need to reduce existing levels of sea turtle by-catch right now.

STRP recommended the OPC consider:

•    Fishery policies that include cumulative effects analyses of the impacts of climate change on California’s sea turtles

•    Legislative efforts to prohibit longlining in the West Coast Exclusive Economic Zone

•    Additional protections for loggerhead sea turtles given the projected increase in EL Nino frequency

•    100% observer coverage on California’s drift gillnet fleet