Target: Margo Schulze-Haugen, Division Chief of highly migratory species, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Goal: Thank NOAA for protecting endangered loggerhead turtles from deadly fishing nets
Migrating loggerhead turtles were recently in danger as fear of getting caught in drift gill-net fisheries spread. They faced becoming stuck in the hazardous nets and eventually drowning. For an endangered species, this is unacceptable. The government was asked to close off areas to drift gill-net fisheries during times when loggerhead turtles were migrating closer to the shores. That wish has finally been granted.
A sea turtle conservation area off the coast of Southern California has been closed to thresher shark and swordfish gill-net fisheries in an effort to safeguard the federally protected turtles. The area spreads across 25,000 square miles of ocean from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. The ban is on all large mesh drift gill-nets and will last until the end of August. If the weather remains warm past August and loggerheads are still present, however, the ban may have to be extended. The drift gill-net season usually runs from August into the winter.
The conservation area for loggerheads has existed since 2003. It was implemented after scientists found that warmer sea-surface currents on the West Coast during El Nino years were bringing the turtles with them. Scientists predict a 70 percent likelihood that El Nino conditions will appear this summer, fall and winter. The recent weather changes are also expected to bring an increase of fish and marine mammals to Southern California from tropical regions.
The North Pacific loggerhead turtles are in danger due to these fishing nets and other fishing gear that inadvertently kills them while attempting to catch other marine life. The nets also kill dolphins, whales and various creatures indiscriminately. Banning the gill-nets for good is the main goal for environmentalists.
The government moved loggerheads from the threatened species list to endangered, but then failed to protect them in their own habitat. This fueled a backlash from environmental organizations, causing the recent change in drift gill-net restrictions. Applaud the NOAA for closing the sea turtle conservation area to deadly drift gill-net fisheries during the sea turtle migration season.
Dear Ms. Margo Schulze-Haugen,
Thank you for placing a temporary ban on drift gill-net fisheries during the months that endangered North Pacific loggerhead turtles are migrating closer to the shores of Southern California. This ban will undoubtedly save the lives of many turtles. It will also spare other marine animals the suffering and death that comes with drift gill-nets.
There is no reason for these nets to be destroying the lives of our marine life. While they should be put to a permanent end, your ban during certain months is certainly helpful in protecting the endangered species of loggerhead turtles, as well as many other species.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Cory via Wikimedia Commons