A sea turtle mandate

“Killing too many loggerhead sea turtles” is the phrase that bent me out of shape once again. After a moment of Zen I did resort to just a shaking of my head in disbelief, but I am still reeling from catching red-handed a three person crew illegally dumping their trash in an open field.  License plate recovered, police informed, and wheels in motion for cleanup so enough said on that topic.

Every time I turn around there is yet another fisheries report or statistic that make its way to the surface and forces me to wonder why we have not yet mandated and end to destructive fisheries techniques.  OK, I know the big box fisheries can’t possibly have any legislative influence, so the blame must solely lie with…the consumers?  Tongue and cheek aside it is definitely a commercial and consumer issue as the circle of fisheries life wouldn’t be complete if restaurant and shelf demand did not exist for species harvested in an unsustainable manner. But, this is something worth repeating yet again as apparently the masses still haven’t downloaded the latest safe seafood lists.

As far as the loggerheads are concerned, appreciation would abound it our morality and diets came together in unison. A mandate;  well if JFK can set a moon directive that the entire country lines up in favor of reaching (and we do with flying colors of patriotism), I must say it is not 1960s rocket science but fisheries science with the backing of 5 decades of technological achievement.

But that technological achievement has instead delivered unprecedented catches of all that our oceans have to offer.  On April 29, NOAA established emergency protections for sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico as observers documented “the reef fish longline fleet was incidentally catching and killing too many loggerhead sea turtles.”  This ruling establishes a buffer zone for the threatened turtles by forcing longliners further out to sea and protecting feeding areas for the next 180 days.

So, being the eternal optimist that I am it appears we have indeed set a mandate for permanent sea turtle protection solutions which by law is 180 days with a potential extension of an additional 186 days.  Let’s stay tuned and watch the launch of a new era in fisheries management, reduced bycatch, and sustainable fishing techniques.  I won’t hold my breath just yet, but a word of advice is that solutions are not in emergency rulings but in formal regulations, consumer action, and commercial responsibility as the future of their jobs depend on it as well.

About The Author

Scott serves as Director of Development & Communications for Audubon Canyon Ranch (focusing on preservation, education and conservation science) and has almost fifteen years of experience spanning for-profit and nonprofit sectors in biotech, wildlife conservation and management, communications, and philanthropy. In addition to a strong track record in organizational growth and leadership, he is the founder of Urban Bird Foundation and Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, and presided over ECHO Fund, a coastal protection and restoration organization, as President for four years. Scott holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy, degrees in Micro & Molecular Biology and Environmental Sciences, and has complemented his studies with a Master's certificate in Environmental Resource Management.

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1 Comment

  1. Amina

    The problem also is that there is no responsible information on what you’re eating. In first world countries there is perhaps a bit more conciousness or information but still the corporations with their money hold the remote, but in third world countries, people won’t mind what they’re eating as long as it reaches their mouth, even though it’s endagered, and that is in part comprehensible because of poverty, but the thing has always been the misinformation and corruption, everybody has a price so for example, whoever is in charge, if he/she receives a juicy amount of money, they won’t mind what goes within. Also, there are almost no sea meals that say they come from environmentally responsible acquiring methods. I’ts so disencouraging to deal with it, I live in a third world country & the majority of people (not all) just don’t know a thing, nor are curious, nor care about it. Also, for example in the USA the way they waste food is insulting, whenever you go to a restaurant, food portions are so big that I have to share always, and many people just throw the vast remains to the trash. There is an over demand and by the 2050 the most important sea food banks will be in serious shortages. We have to learn to eat according to circumstances. But where to start? To be honest, there aren’t a lot of educated and/or interested persons in these matters.
    I somehow believe that when food pricing starts to elevate seriously due to shortages, and when people start to see there isn’t enough left, true changes will start, but as always it will be later than what it should be. I hope turtles are respected, they are such ancestral creatures and so amazing… I could go on and on with so many species, from tiny & unknown to big & popular, but it makes me sad. In the meantime, a good deed is to act coherent and teach the people we can reach, such as our children.

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