Friday, April 9, 2010

Fisheries need to re-think their methods

Discovery has released a report regarding one of the most beautiful and ancient animals on the planet, the Sea Turtle. These animals numbers are dropping as a result of both loss of habitat and inhumane fishing practises. This has become a serious issue not only for Sea Turtles but also Dolphins and other creatures of the deep. Six out of seven marine turtle species are now categorized as "Vulnerable" "Endangered" or "Critically Endangered", now is the time to start researching the companies we are buying from, as many are driven purely by profit. Below are some key parts of the article -
Millions of endangered sea turtles have been accidentally captured or killed over the past two decades by longline, gillnet and trawl fisheries worldwide, according to a new report.
The report, published in the journal Conservation Letters, is the first global assessment of sea turtle bycatch for these three major types of fishing. Bycatch occurs when fishing equipment, such as giant nets or longlines with thousands of baited hooks, snag animals other than what they are intended to catch.
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.
"For sea turtles, fisheries bycatch is the most serious, acute threat to the persistence of their populations," lead author Bryan Wallace told Discovery News, adding that shrimp trawling is one of the most damaging practices.
"Anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds of bycatch -- turtles, fish, mammals, invertebrates, coral -- is removed from the ocean to catch enough for just a pound of shrimp," Wallace, a science adviser for Conservation International, said. "In the process, the destruction to ocean habitats left in the wake of a trawl net is very much like clear-cutting and bulldozing a tropical forest. That habitat is changed dramatically, and its recovery, if possible, will take a very long time."
To combat the problem, Wallace and his team recommend regional governance, such as establishing marine protected areas. They also propose sustainable fisheries reform, including seasonal and time-area closures to fisheries, as well as selective gear modification, such as the use of circle hooks and Turtle Excluder Devices. Responsible seafood consumption by consumers is also key.
-Pics and statistics courtesy of Discovery News

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