“Sea Turtles are drowning -Save them from bottom longline fishing nets “

Save Sea Turtles from the hooks of Bottom longline fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. gex_green-sea-turtle

This practice has resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of imperiled sea turtles. Sea turtles are turtles found in all the world’s oceans except the Arctic Ocean. Government money for research needs to used to improve the longline system.






There are seven living species of sea turtles:

flatback, green sea turtle, hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley.

Kemp’s Ridley is the smallest living sea turtle species and live the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Almost all females return each year to a single beach Rancho Nuevo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas to lay their eggs. (Pictured below.)Kemp's Ridley Due to fishing practices the Hawksbill turtle hawksbill_turtle2 Eretmochelys imbricata populations around the world are threatened with extinction and has been classified as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union. (Pictured at the right.) All species Are being snagged by razor sharp hooks on fishing lines that span anywhere from four to nine nautical miles, the loggerhead and other threatened and endangered sea turtles are drowning and dying right now in the Gulf of Mexico.

turtle_loggerhead_sea Loggerheads nesting on Florida beaches the same turtles captured in the Gulf of Mexico bottom longline fishery have plummeted by more than 40% over the last decade Six of seven species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and indiscriminate fishing practices like this are a grave threat to sea turtles around the world.


leatherbackturtle

The leatherback turtle ( at the left) is the largest of all living sea turtles and the fourth largest reptile behind three crocodilians. It has no claws on both pair of flippers. The leatherback’s flippers are the largest in proportion to its body among the extant sea turtles. Leatherback front flippers can grow up to 2.7 meters in large specimens, making their the flippers the largest in comparison to its body of any sea turtle.

As the last surviving member of its family, the leatherback turtle is different from other sea turtles.because it lacks a the bony shell like other living sea turtles. The leatherback’s carapace is covered by its thick, leathery skin with seven minuscule embedded bony plates. that run from the anterior-to-posterior margin of the turtle’s back. The entire turtle’s underside is lightly colored.

Dermochelys coriacea adults average at around one to two meters long and weigh from around 500-1650 lbs.(250 to 700 kilograms). The largest ever found measured over three meters from head to tail and weighed 2015.2 lbs (916 kilograms). That particular specimen was found on a beach on the west coast of Wales in the North Atlantic

Being able to descend to depths of 1200 meters (3,937feet) or more the leatherbacks are the reptile world’s deepest-divers. They are also the fastest reptiles listed in 1992 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, the leatherback turtle speed of 9.8 meters per second (35.28 kilometers per hour) in the water has not been beat.

Please help us save the lives of threatened and endangered sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Write the National Marine Fisheries Service to immediately put more attention into safer practices to save sea turtles and other wildlife caught in by these hooks.

Finding ways to save the fishing industry and the wildlife is our goal. Updated based on your input.2/21, 2009. Thanks for all the quality facts and figures that are coming in your feedback makes a difference.

For more turtle information click.

Resources

Image 1. Green sea turtle courtesy of Greenexpander.com green-sea-turtle

Image 2. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle courtesy of Wikipedia PadreIslandNationalSeashore-KempsRidleySeaurtle

Image 3. Hawksbill: Courtesy of Wikipedia.org Hawksbill_Turtle.

Image 4. Loggerhead: Courtesy of Seasky.org seasky.org/reeflife/turtle_loggerhead_sea

Excerpts Courtesy of Wikipedia.org Leatherbackturtle

Image 5. Leatherback: Courtesy of Wikipedia.org LeatherbackTurtle

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11 Comments

  1. brooksgang said,

    February 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Please get your FACTS right, there is no bottom long-line fishing NETS.
    The bottom long-line fishermen in the Gulf are responsible for 300 or less of turtle mortality with less than that being female nesters.
    There are more turtles being KILLED by high speed boats around the coast of Florida [approximatly 750 annually].
    This ban is not about saving turtles,its about banning an industry and putting about 1,800 people out of work.
    If we don’t catch these fish they will be caught and imported from Mexico with the same gear and any turtles caught will more than likely be part of the harvest.
    I have been looking at the total mortality charts and there is 943 adult females being legally harvested annually some where,up to 1,000,000 eggs are destroyed by beach erosion annually and the list goes on.
    The long-line industry has submitted to NMFS measures to reduce turtle mortality in this industry that will work if given a chance.
    If these people are put out of work they will end up in the LONG-LINE of Gov. handouts.
    WE all can’t live off the gov, some one in this country has to work and support this gov.
    If enough people are out of work this gov. will collapse and if enough people are hungry they will harvest those turtles when they come to the beach to feed there children.
    Importing all the food we consume from third world country’s is not the answer folks.We have sent enough of our problems overseas while sitting back thinking we’ve accomplished something when all we’ve done is move the problem else where and pay some one else.
    There will always be interactions in any thing we do, all we can do is minimize our impacts as much as possible.
    All fishermen believe in live and let live, these hard working Americans should be able to work and support their family’s just like you!

  2. floridagirl22 said,

    February 19, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I’ve been volunteering with the Sea Turtle Research Center in Georgia for the past two years, and these sea turtles really need our help!!

    However, the biggest problem is not long-line fisherman…. :(

    Here are the Statistics for sea turtle mortality rates:

    1. Illegal harvesting of turtles & eggs (from Mexico, Central & South America): harvest about 940 adult females annually

    2. High-speed boats: responsible for 750 turtle deaths annually

    3. Beach erosion (caused by weather, developers, and humans): up to 1,000,000 eggs annually

    4. Long-line fisherman in the gulf: responsible for 300 or less of turtle mortality, with less than that being female nesters.

    I think a better solution would be to raise awareness about beach erosion, and to enforce stricter laws against high-speed boating. Lastly, we need to protect sea turtles against harvesters. This would save so many more turtles!!!

  3. floridagirl22 said,

    February 19, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Also, about this petition, you have to realize the other side of the issue…..

    Florida fishermen are also concerned for the environment (most of them have lived on the coasts of Florida all their lives, and have a genuine love for the outdoors and their states wildlife).

    Long-liners are working to improve their gear so they can protect turtles AND provide fresh Florida seafood to millions of Americans. (What kind of American wants to eat foreign imports??)

    Do you recall the turtle exclusion devices they added to fishing nets? Similar things can be done to protect turtles from long-liners. That is the concern of many fishermen right now.

    If you shut down the Florida fishing industry, thousands of Americans will lose their jobs and will have to receive handouts from the government (yeah, that’s all we need is more unemployment). Not to mention, you’re not solving the turtle problem, since most turtles are killed by other factors.

    Not to mention, if this legislation passes, Florida restaurants will no longer be able to serve FRESH FLORIDA SEAFOOD to Americans. We will have to import the fish from Mexico, a country that continues to use gear that kills turtles and PROFITS from harvested turtles.

    Personally, I do not think any one should sign that petition :(

  4. February 19, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Do you recall the turtle exclusion devices they added to fishing nets? Similar things can be done to protect turtles from long-liners. That is the concern of many fishermen right now.

    Please send us more info. on turtle exclusion practices being used today. We want to protect, educate and inspire more people to to take care of the environment while protecting and respecting people’s livelihoods.

  5. floridagirl22 said,

    February 19, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    A turtle excluder device (or TED) is a specialized device that allows a captured sea turtle to escape when caught in a fisherman’s net.

    TEDs were first developed in the 1970s by a fisherman called Sinkey Boone.

    The use of the devices ideally allow all by-catch larger than ten centimeters (such as sea turtles) to escape the nets unharmed. This selectivity is achieved by metal grids integrated into the trawl net structure. The grids act as a barrier for large creatures such as turtles from passing through the bars into the back of the net.

    more info at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtle_excluder_device

  6. floridagirl22 said,

    February 19, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    All fishermen using nets are required to use TEDs, so nets don’t really pose a problem to sea turtles. Admittedly, the TEDs are not 100% effective, but fishermen are working to improve these devices so they can continue fishing without catching sea turtles.

    Long-liner fishermen are currently developing their own mechanization to prevent sea turtles from being snagged on their lines.

    Why doesn’t the federal government provide funding to help develop environmentally-friendly equipment? I would like to see a petition to do this, rather than a petition to shutdown an entire industry that is important to the Florida and U.S. economy. :(

    Since neither the government nor the environmental groups are interested in helping fishermen develop alternative equipment, the fishermen are left to fend for themselves. Many of them are now working to craft a flotation device that conceals the hook on a long-line as it sinks to the ocean floor. Turtles become snagged as the hooks sink to the floor of the ocean, so if the hook is concealed, the turtles are safe. Once the device reaches the ocean floor, it exposes the hook so that grouper and other fish can be caught.

    We appreciate your patience and support as Florida fishermen work WITH conservation groups to protect endangered species and make use of natural resources while causing a minimal impact on the environment.

  7. jimclements1 said,

    February 19, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Your article uses incorect terminology is wrong. Longliners don’t use nets.

    THE WAY OF THE WIND ON THE SEA

    You may be wondering why a small vertical line fisherman from Carrabelle Florida would not support getting rid of longliners in the Gulf of Mexico. Aside from the fact that they are being persecuted by misleading, unjustified, and unwarranted information put forth by environmental groups who have accused them of harming turtles, and these accusations being supported by, the Gulf Council, NMFS, and the FWCC, there are several reasons that may not be oblivious to the public, but will surely hurt all commercial Gulf grouper fishermen, both large, and especially small.

    The 2009 gag grouper quota has been cut by 40% from recent historical landings. Longliners are not going to quit fishing. They are going to convert their boats over to bandit boats, install large live wells, fish inshore waters where gag grouper are more abundant, and make long trips in weather that small commercial fishermen cannot. This new gag quota will be caught quickly, witch will trigger an immediate closure of the entire shallow water grouper commercial fishery. Some say as early as mid summer. Aside from the fact that there will be little fresh Gulf grouper in our favorite restaurants, or for the American consumer to enjoy, this will devastate all commercial fishermen who are unable to be out of work, and support themselves and their families for as much as 6 months. When the grouper fishery is closed, fishermen will then target and put pressure on other species such as amberjack, king mackerel, vermillion snapper, and porgies, which will in turn, cause dead discarded grouper. Does it make sense for the government to put thousands of fishing related American citizens out of work and kill many tons of the very fish they are trying to protect?

    If longliners are eliminated, the red grouper quota will fall way short of being caught in 2009. Red grouper account for 60% of longliners’ historical catch. In the short run, longliners will make closer in, shorter trips that are more economical. As longliners adapt to bandit gear, in a short time, they will be able to once again help fill the commercial red grouper quota. That is, if the government doesn’t reallocate the grouper away from the commercial sector and give it to the recreational sector in the meantime.

    There is already a strong effort, not by responsible recreational fishermen, but by the CCA, who seem to put themselves above not only our recourses, but other citizens, and wants to reallocate all reef fish, especially grouper, away from the commercial sector and give it to the recreational sector. Their selfish, misguided justification for this reallocation is that they think that getting rid of longliners, which will, in turn, even if only in the short run, leave tons of fish in the water, will give them the inherent right to these fish. This is our livelihood, for Christ sake. They can go play golf or tennis. We can not.

    They think this will give them tons of ammunition to justify their cause. The CCA has gone as far as to hire the Gentner Consulting Group to put together an, obviously biased, Allocation Analysis Report showing why this reallocation should be done. Here is a quote from this report. “current red grouper angler total economic value is $13.6 million and would be $83 million dollars under a 100% allocation to the recreational sector.” A 100% allocation to the recreational sector! Na, that’s not biased, is it? After all, 0% allocation wouldn’t hurt the commercial sector much, would it? If you think this is a joke, read this:

    At the recent Bay St. Louis Gulf Council meeting a Council member made the following motion:

    AD Hoc Allocation

    Motion: To submit the Allocation Analysis study by Brad Gentner to the SEP for their review and recommendations

    Substitute Motion as modified: To convene the SEP prior to the April 2009 Council meeting to provide socio-economic advice regarding the Allocation Analysis study by Gentner; furthermore, to invite Mr. Gentner to the SEP meeting and to the April meeting to present the findings of his report. To also send the Fisheries Economic Paper of the United States 2006 to the SEP for their review and recommendations and to have someone who created this document to attend the meeting.

    Amendment: Invite Mr. Gentner to the SEP meeting and invite the SEP to present their analysis of the report at the April Council meeting.

    Amendment carried with no objection

    Is this not something for all commercial fishermen and fishing communities to be concerned about? The Council appointed a Reallocation Committee some months ago. At each Council meeting since, this Committee has gotten closer and closer to making a decision and recommendation on reallocation. This is a very serious issue. I am on the Reef Fish Ad Hoc Advisory Panel appointed by the Gulf Council, and will fight reallocation every step of the way. A group of concerned commercial fishermen attend most public hearings, full Council meetings and FWCC meetings at their own expense. We have been trying to convince the Council members and the FWCC commissioners that it would not be in the public’s benefit, nor the consumers interests, to reallocate our nation’s reef fish recourses away from the commercial sector that is completely accountable, and give it to the recreational sector, that repeatedly exceeds their grouper quota (in 2003, their red grouper quota by more than double). We have tried to show them, by example, that the commercial sector has their house in order, and the recreational sector should not come over to our house until they clean up their own.

    If any reef fish is reallocated away from the commercial sector, those fishermen will likely have to find work elsewhere. What chance does a man have of finding another job when he has fished all his life, and fishing is all he knows? You can look at the calloused hands of these men and their weather beaten faces and you will immediately realize that these are men who are inherently proud and independent. They have never asked for, nor ever received, a government handout in their lives. My bet is that they would never accept a government bailout, knowing full well that their children and probably their grandchildren will have to pay it back. They would most likely move on to some other type of work on the water, which they love and respect, until they die, or until the government takes that job away from them too!

    I hope you see why I do not support getting rid of longliners in the Gulf. I have a different perspective about longliners than in the past. Other fishermen have been wise enough to see this all along. I have never encountered a group of people more dedicated to protecting their own, protecting their God given resource, and protecting other fellow fishermen. Most are very decent folks, just trying to make a living doing all they have ever known, and what they have always loved. I respect any man who works hard for an honest living, and I don’t know of many jobs that are harder, or more dangerous than longlining. I have told the ones I have met, and the ones that have become great friends, that in the past, I did not approve of longlining. I didn’t even know them, and knew little about longlining, yet, I was judging them. I was wrong. I and ashamed. I am sorry.

    To partially make up for this, I have stuck my neck out so far as to put an article in the local newspaper in my own small fishing town, whose inhabitants include many fishermen who have always been opposed to longliners, and showed my support for them. Let it be known that I will help any honest fisherman. I have always stood up for what I believe, and am not, and will not, be concerned about what others think of my beliefs, or how I express them, even if they dislike me for doing so. Neither will I idly stand by and be insensitive enough to watch the government railroad my fellow American fishermen out of business. Fishermen have been around since the beginning of mankind. Jesus Christ was a fisherman of fish, as well as lost souls. We are truly a dying breed. We will fight to the end, even though the end may be near.

    My last hope is that after the government has surely cast us adrift,
    and when we go the way of the wind on the sea,
    that they will build just one small museum as a gift,
    with paintings of us and our vessels for future generations to see.

    Jim Clements
    Captjmclements@aol.com

  8. February 20, 2009 at 1:28 am

    Let’s get this petition for funding to help develop environmentally-friendly equipment formulated and moving to the White House.
    Let’s talk to your state reps,

  9. friendoftheearth said,

    February 21, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Yes turtles are in trouble world wide as is the manatee the frog and the honey bees
    Long-line fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is not the culprit here. Let look into Shore Line development High-speed sport boats.
    I personally do everything and everything to help save the biodiversity of planet earth.
    The need for wholesome seafood will always be present. Florida fishermen are the only true stewards of the Gulf of Mexico
    Lets not allow our nations second oldest profession lay to waste for know reason

    ABC reports on increasing problems with imported fish–80% of what is sold in the US. The FDA inspects only 1% of that, and the FDA is finding rising levels of contaminants.

    According to a new report by Food & Water Watch, the aquaculture industry crams fish and shellfish into facilities to maximize production, generating large amounts of waste, contaminating water and spreading disease if left untreated. The industry tries to control the spread of bacterial infections, disease and parasites by pumping the food supplies with antibiotics and the waters with fungicides and pesticides

    Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Imported Fish & Shrimp

  10. blackhawkpaul said,

    February 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Nature’s Crusaders: Why are you innaccurately bashing of the US Gulf long-line professional fishermen? I am not one of them nor do I derive any income from them but I know several and have seen them at work regularly. Shouldn’t you have learned more about long-line fishing before posting an innaccurate depiction of their methods? Could you consider combining resources and working with the Gulf Fishermens Association to accurately lobby for real-world conservation methods? Just bashing the professional fishermen with innaccurate depictions of their procedures creates an adversary environment in which no one gets any real results to protect the turtles or other environmentally impacted animals or resources. Go meet the professional fishermen association leaders and try to establish a dialogue with them and you will find that the fishermen are VERY PROTECTIVE of the environment. The professional fishermen I know maintain and pay for natural fish hatchery preserves for all species, regularly clean up tons of refuse from natural fishery areas and report environmental abuses to authorities. Please stop bashing the US Gulf professional fishermen and meet with them. If you combined resources with US Gulf professional fishermen you might make a real difference in the areas where the real abuses in this area occur. The professional fishermen are easy to locate- http://www.gulffishermen.org/contacts/index.html
    After posting an innaccurate article like this one, if you do not readch out to the professional fishermen in a meaningful attempt at dialogue. it will make you look suspect and incredible regarding your motives. Please step up and do the right thing! At first glance this appears to be an attack on the professional fishinng industry rather than an attempt to help the turtles. If sport boaters, foreign professional fishermen, land developers and polluters are causing the most damage, why did you target US Gulf Fishermen with an innaccurate article as to their methods? Answers are needed to protect your basic credibility?
    Here is where to contact professional US fishermen via their association- You owe them answers, dialogue, a retraction and an apology-

    http://www.gulffishermen.org/contacts/index.html

  11. June 30, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    [...] – seriously over fished sea turtles – seriously endangered, most cos of fishing methods. for more info sharks – because of all ive said in the previous post spiny lobster – entangles in fishing lines. [...]


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