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  Prominent Scientists Join Call for UN Moratorium on Longline Fishing


Prominent Scientists Join Call for UN Moratorium on Longline Fishing

705 International Scientists from 83 countries Have Signed

Source: Robert Ovetz, PhD, The Sea Turtle Restoration Project

Each year, in addition to endangering sea turtles, about 4.4 million sharks, seabirds, billfish and marine mammals maimed and killed by longlines in the Pacific.
World-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, has added her voice to 705 international scientists from 83 countries who are urging the UN to implement a moratorium on longline fishing in the Pacific Ocean to prevent the extinction of the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle. The scientists are joined by 230 non-governmental organizations from 54 countries. The list of signers includes biologist E.O. Wilson, oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, and former US astronaut William Harris, M.D.

According to the statement, “An International Call by Leading Scientists to Reverse the Pacific Leatherback's Extinction Trajectory,” the scientists warn that “The Pacific leatherback sea turtle is at the top of the list of species being driven to the brink of extinction by increased efforts of global industrial fishing.” Also impacted are about 4.4 million sharks, seabirds, billfish and marine mammals maimed and killed by longlines in the Pacific each year.

“Sea Turtles are endangered everywhere. Unless there is a concerted effort by all the groups and individuals who care, the Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle is almost certainly doomed to extinction. And these efforts would be greatly strengthened by the support of the United Nations,” said Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, in a prepared statement to the press. “How tragic it would be if future generations know these wonderful animals only from photographs and films.”

Because sea turtles are migratory, traveling thousands of miles each year to nest, an international solution is needed.

The female nesting population of highly migratory leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean has collapsed by 95 per cent since 1980. Eminent scientists warn that the leatherback could go extinct in 5-30 years unless the threat from longline fishing is reduced. Because sea turtles are migratory, traveling thousands of miles each year to nest, an international solution is needed.

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution last November calling for prohibitions of destructive fishing practices. The first place to start, according to the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, is by implementing a moratorium on longline fishing. In the past, the UN has banned destructive fishing methods, such as through the international moratorium on high seas driftnetting.

The petitions, originally submitted to the UN in February 2003 with the names of 413 international scientists and 113 NGOs, have not yet received a formal response from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The scientist petition is available here.

The NGO petition is available here.

The Sea Turtle Restoration Project is a California-based marine conservation organization that works to protect sea turtles and other marine species in the United States and in countries around the world. For more information, visit: and

Robert Ovetz, coordinator of the Save the Leatherback Campaign, may be reached at

Copyright © 2005 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on February 2, 2005.

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