top
North Coast
North Coast
Indybay
Indybay
Indybay
Regions
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
Topics
Newswire
Features
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

Fishery’s Expansion Threatens Endangered Leatherbacks Off California

by Turtle Island Restoration Network
By Todd Steiner | May 17, 2024 - In an inexplicable move, the National Marine Fisheries Service has allowed a little known fishery that targets bottom-dwelling sablefish — also known as black cod or butterfish to expand into federally designated critical habitat for critically endangered Pacific leatherback turtles.
By Todd Steiner | May 17, 2024 - In an inexplicable move, the National Marine Fisheries Service has allowed a little known fishery that t...
The West Coast sablefish pot fishery places its fish trap pots placed on the bottom of the ocean attached by a rope to a floating buoys on the surface. Thirty to 50 pots are then strung together on two-mile long ropes for ease of retrieval by fishers. When a turtle or whale come into contact with the lines it can wrap around sea turtles’ necks or front flippers, anchoring them to the heavy pots on seafloor resulting horrible deaths and injury.

The new fishery expansion allows this deadly gear into crucial feeding areas for leatherbacks previously designated as a leatherback conservation areas off Oregon and California that have been closed to net driftnet fishing since the early 2000s. Nearly 2,000 square miles of the newly opened areas are also in leatherback sea turtle critical habitat, including within Cordell Bank, Greater Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries.

The result, leatherbacks are experiencing horrible deaths or being seriously injured when they get entangled in pot traps.

This must stop immediately. With only a couple of thousand adult leatherbacks left in the Pacific, every single leatherback is critical to the survival of the species. Turtle Island joined the Center for Biological Diversity and filed suit to protect leatherback turtles from entanglement in this fishery Legal Petition:
https://seaturtles.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/2021-12-Center-Ropeless-Petition.pdf

In addition to calling for a reduction in the amount of traps placed in the ocean, Turtle Island is calling for alternative gear be required that lessen the impact of this fishery.

Known as “ropeless pop-up gear,” the vertical lines can be eliminated, and with the click of a button, a buoy attached to the trap can be released and float to the surface to allow for immediate retrieval by fishers.

This new technology can save the lives of whales and turtles in many pot fisheries including lobster, crab and fish pot fisheries throughout the US. Unfortunately, fishers are reluctant to switch gears.

Turtle Island is actively working to promote this new technology on the East and West Coast of the US.


Figure 1. Leatherback sea turtle critical habitat in California consists of Area 1 in orange, the principal feeding area, and Area 7 in yellow, the secondary feeding area. The cross-hatch indicates conservation areas Fisheries Service recently reopened to sablefish pot fishing. Map by K. Clauser/Center for Biological Diversity.


Turtle Island Restoration Network is an international marine conservation organization headquartered in California whose 150,000+ members and online activists work to protect sea turtles and marine biodiversity in the United States and around the world.


https://seaturtles.org/fisherys-expansion-threatens-endangered-leatherbacks-off-california/
Add Your Comments
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!

Donate

$35.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.

Publish

Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network