Friday, April 9, 2010
Race for Fish Killing Millions of Marine Turtles
ARLINGTON, Virginia, April 8, 2010 (ENS) - Millions of sea turtles are thought to have died over the past 20 years because they were caught accidentally in fishing nets or snagged on longlines, according to the first ever global study of unintended capture on marine turtle populations.
Unintended capture of non-target species, called bycatch, happens when fisheries use gear such as longlines with thousands of baited hooks, or nets that kill animals other than those they are intended to catch.
As a result, six of the world's seven species of marine turtles now are categorized as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered on the authoritative Red List of Threatened Species complied by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN.
They are loggerheads, leatherbacks, hawksbills, olive ridleys, Kemp's Ridleys and green sea turtles. The conservation status of the seventh marine turtle species, the flatback, endemic to Australia, is currently unclear due to lack of data.
These ancient species, believed to have become distinct from all other turtles at least 110 million years ago, are now being wiped out by irresponsible fishing practices, the study shows.