Photo: Wikipedia, CC
'Turtle Safe' Would be a Good Start, But 'Ocean Safe' is What We Really Need
According to a new report published in the journal Conservation Letters, millions of endangered sea turtles have been accidentally captured or killed over the past two decades by longline, gillnet and trawl fisheries worldwide. This is something that many of us suspected, but the report is the first global assessment of sea turtle bycatch for these three major types of fishing. "Turtles, which are air-breathing reptiles, often perish by drowning or by swallowing sharp hooks that can become lodged in the soft tissue of the turtles' throats and stomachs," writes Discovery News.
Photo: Wikipedia, CC
Wallace and his team compiled a comprehensive database of reported information on bycatch rates for the three major types of fisheries worldwide from 1998 to 2008. The total reported global marine turtle bycatch was around 85,000. Since the data only covered less than 1 percent of total fleets, and didn't even include bycatch information from small-scale fisheries, the researchers estimate actual turtle bycatch at 8.5 million or more for the analyzed period of time. (source)
Six of the seven sea turtle species are categorized as "Vulnerable," "Endangered" or "Critically Endangered" globally by the IUCN Red List.
What Should be Done to Protect Sea Turtles
To protect sea turtles, many things could be done. Protected marine areas, seasonal and time-area closures of fisheries, and modifications to the fishing equipment to avoid catching turtles in the first place. In the same way that we need to manage forests much more sustainably, we need to learn to operate on the oceans in ways that allows them to thrive and produce much more than we take. It's not realistic to think that everybody will stop eating fish any time soon, but we are currently so wasteful and destructive - like a bull in a china shop - that there are many things we could do to tread more lightly.
Via Discovery News
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