UN votes on closures to protect sea turtles Published: 28 November, 2005
THE United Nations General Assembly will today vote on a resolution that calls for closures of fishing in areas where large numbers of critically endangered sea turtles are caught or killed. The critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle is on the verge of extinction and is expected by scientists to go extinct in the next 5-30 years unless immediate measures to eliminate threats posed by industrial longline fishing are taken. Environmentalists are pleased at this first step but claim that a moratorium on destructive longline fishing is needed in the Pacific if the leatherback is to survive.
“We are pleased that the UN finally moving closer to the worldwide consensus that something urgently needs to be done to prevent the extinction of the leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles in the Pacific,” said Robert Ovetz, Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator of the US based Sea Turtle Restoration Project which is leading the advocacy effort by a coalition of international environmental organizations. Last June a parade of schoolchildren dressed in sea turtle costumes delivered a petition to the UN signed by thousands of citizens, 1,007 scientists from 97 countries and 281 non-governmental organizations from 64 countries urging it to implement a moratorium on high seas industrial longline fishing in the Pacific. The list of signers includes famed primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, and former U.S. astronaut Bernard Harris, Jr. M.D.
According to the recent reports in the scientific journal Nature, the 100 million year old leatherback sea turtle is on the brink of extinction. The population of female nesting leatherbacks has declined by about 95% since 1980, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project claim.
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