Shrimp Trawler/ Ian Simons
Save Turtles from Guatemala Shrimp Trawls

GRN_dead_Trawler_Guatemala_ScottHandyThis has been the deadliest summer for endangered sea turtles in Guatemala on record. Over eighty-five turtles have washed ashore dead while shrimp trawlers drag their nets offshore nesting beaches. This photo of a deceased Pacific green sea turtle to the right, taken in Guatemala, shows exactly how close shrimp trawlers infringe on turtle habitat.

Shrimp trawl fishing destroys the seabed, removes nearly all the species of flora and fauna in its path, and regularly catches and drowns innocent sea turtles.

Because of the devastation caused by shrimp trawling to endangered sea turtles and important fishery habitats, this practice has already been banned in Belize, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, and was recently severely restricted in El Salvador.

We are working directly to support this campaign with a coalition of Guatemala environmental organizations headed by the Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association (ARCAS). For more information and how you can help, contact them at arcaspeticion@gmail.com or www.arcasguatemala.com or on Facebook at ARCAS.

Take action below to save endangered sea turtles from Guatemala shrimp trawls!

Message

Dear President Perez Molina,

This summer, we experienced the worst sea turtle stranding in the history of Guatemala. Eighty-five turtles were found dead on Pacific beaches in the southeast of the country when shrimp trawling boats were fishing nearby. We, the undersigned, request the permanent cancellation of operating licenses for shrimp trawling boats in Guatemala to protect endangered sea turtles and support the sustainability of marine fisheries on which marginalizes coastal communities depend.

During the months of July, August and September, more than 85 sea turtles were found dead, including 76 olive ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea), 8 black (Chelonia mydas agazzisi) and one leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea). The loss of the latter two species is particularly disturbing given their critically endangered status.

This stranding coincided with the presence of shrimp trawling boats in waters off Guatemala beaches. It is fully documented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO ) and other experts that the practice of trawl fishing for shrimp is a direct threat to the turtles and other marine wildlife since they trap and drown them in their nets. This gear also poses a threat to food security since up to 95 % of what is caught is "bycatch", mostly juvenile fish which have not had a chance to reproduce, and are thrown back into the ocean injured or dead. According to the FAO, " Shrimp trawling is generally regarded as one of the least selective fishing methods… No other fishing method comes close to matching such discarding and wastage of marine resources." (http://www.fao.org/docrep/ 015/a1008e/a1008e.pdf, Page 1). The FAO compares shrimp trawling with clearcutting a forest in order to catch a bird.

Trawl fishing also destroys the seabed, pollutes the water with excess sediment, and removes nearly all the species of flora and fauna in its path. The destruction of seabed ecosystems is almost irreparable. With overfishing by industrial trawlers and the resulting decrease in shrimp catch, trawlers redirect their efforts to other species and sectors, many of these utilized by artesanal fishermen, causing serious social and economic conflicts.

The problems associated with shrimp trawlers are well documented. Because of the devastation they cause to endangered sea turtles and important fishery habitats, this practice has already been banned in Belize, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, and has recently been severely restricted in El Salvador.

For these reasons, we the undersigned request the permanent cancellation of operating licenses for shrimp trawling boats in Guatemala both on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. With this measure we are contributing to the conservation of the marine ecosystems of the South Coast and to the sustainability of marine fisheries on which thousands of human residents of coastal communities in Guatemala depend.

Sincerely,