International experts call for increased protection of leatherback sea turtles in Eastern Tropical Pacific

(April 18, 2011 – San José, Costa Rica)

The International Sea Turtle Society (ISTS), a group of renowned experts on sea turtle biology and conservation, gathered during the 31st Annual Sea Turtle Symposium in San Diego, California, last week, unanimously adopted a resolution calling on countries with fisheries operations in the Eastern Tropical Pacific to fulfill their obligations to prevent the extinction of leatherback sea turtles in the region, and to report to the global public on their efforts to protect this critically endangered species.

The ISTS expressed concern that not only over ten years have passed since a study in Nature (2000) reported that in the East Pacific leatherback sea turtle populations have experienced declines of over 90% during the past two decades, due in large part to fisheries interactions, but also that following warnings by prominent scientists that this population is facing imminent risk of extinction, annual nesting numbers in the East Pacific have continued to decline in spite of more than a decade of protection and monitoring at key nesting sites where egg exploitation and poaching have been effectively eliminated.

The resolution targets the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC) and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Convention (IATTC), both of which have agreed to binding measures to protect these sea turtles by implementing the FAO Guidelines for reducing sea turtle mortality in fishing operations, which includes the adoption of time-area fishing closures in areas and seasons of high interaction with sea turtles.  However this has not yet resulted in any single concrete regional action to reduce leatherback sea turtle interactions with fisheries in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

The ISTS also urges the governments of Costa Rica and Ecuador to establish a protected area between Cocos Islands and the Galapagos where fisheries are regulated in order to protect leatherback sea turtles and other species from fishing activities in areas and during times of increased interaction that result in high mortality and contribute to their critically endangered status.

“Their time is running out”, said Rebecca Regnery, of Humane Society International.  “We now have critically important science on leatherback migratory movements that we didn’t have 10 years ago to design temporary closures that could be compatible with certain fisheries operations, so now it’s a matter of moving forward with the political will to save these creatures”.

“Costa Rica recently expanded protection around Cocos Island National Park by creating a concentric “multiple use area” around the 12 mile no take core, and is working with the local fishery industry to design a fisheries management plan for the new protected area,” said an optimistic Randall Arauz of the Costa Rican NGO Pretoma.  “These efforts however, must be regional, and the IAC and the IATTC must call on their Parties to take effective action to protect leatherback sea turtles during their migrations from and to nesting and foraging sites, not just talk about it”.

For more information:

Rebecca Regnery.  Humane Society International   rregnery@hsi.org

Randall Arauz.  Pretoma / Costa Rica   rarauz@pretoma.org   (506) 2241 5227

El Salvador: Limited areas for industrial shrimp trawling and artisanal fishing

Last week the Legislative Assembly established new limits for industrial and artisanal fishing defining the first nautical mile (1,852 meters) from the low tide line out to sea to be an aquatic reserve.

The new limits also prohibit commercial shrimp trawling efforts inside three nautical miles of the coast while artisanal efforts are only prohibited inside the first nautical mile.

In the changes to the General Planning and Fishing and Aquaculture Promotion Law, representatives reiterated the prohibition of trawl nets, a practice used in shrimp fishing that involves dragging the net across the sea floor while capturing everything in its path, in addition to other unselective methods not authorized by the authorities.

“Industrial fishing vessels use trawl nets that result in negative consequences such as the uncontrolled exploitation of resources and in thousands of tons of marine fauna bycatch that is thrown away, not to mention the destruction of the sea bed”, reads the decree, approved by 75 votes.

Research for the new law was an endeavor of the new Environmental and Climate Change Commission.  It reviewed proposals from artisanal fishing associations complaining about how industrial shrimp trawlers were destroying the sea bottom and leaving them with no fish of their own to catch.

Share it! / ¡Compartir!
    AndyNews
    International experts call for increased protection of leatherback sea turtles in Eastern Tropical Pacific (April 18, 2011 – San José, Costa Rica) The International Sea Turtle Society (ISTS), a group of renowned experts on sea turtle biology and conservation, gathered during the 31st Annual Sea Turtle Symposium in San Diego, California,...