Marine ecologist Larry Crowder from Duke University in the US is reported at BBC News Online claiming that leatherback turtles face extinction within 30 years if there are not dramatic changes to fishing practices.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species there has been a 70 percent decline in the global population of female Leatherbacks in one generation.
The IUCN attributes the dramatic decline to poaching of the turtle’s eggs as well as entanglement in fishing lines.
According to Professor Crowder:
“Globally, each day, there are around four million hooks in the world’s oceans fishing for tuna and swordfish.
Turtles will eat the bait and get caught on the hooks, or simply get entangled in the lines.
Because the range of leatherbacks is so great, national legislation on long lines will not be sufficient to save the animals.
“If you tag one with a satellite tag in Monterey bay, it will shoot straight across to Indonesia,” Professor Crowder explained.
“They are the most widely distributed sea turtle. They swim from 50 degrees south to 50 degrees north. Trying to regulate their interactions with fisheries out in international waters is really difficult.”
Professor Crowder told delegates [at a conference in Denver] that there was much that could be done to minimise the impact of long line fishing, such as changing the shape of hooks.”
I have previously written that plastic bags can kill marine turtles particularly Leatherbacks, click here.