“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.