Relief for Gulf Loggerheads? - Oceana USA
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January 28, 2009

Relief for Gulf Loggerheads?

A few months back I told you how longlines in the Gulf of Mexico were catching an alarming amount of loggerhead sea turtles. Oceana’s Campaign to Protect Sea Turtles has been on the case, and I’m pleased to say that some progress has been made.Yesterday a committee of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted to protect sea turtles (most of which are loggerheads) from the bottom longline sector of the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery. More specifically, the committee requested that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issue an emergency rule prohibiting longline gear in waters shallower than 50 fathoms (sea turtle territory) for a five month period, effective as soon as possible. The emergency closure would protect sea turtles while NMFS develops a long-term solution.And just to remind you: according to recent Government data, nearly 1,000 sea turtles were caught by bottom longlines in this fishery in just 18 months — that’s approximately eight times the federally authorized capture level for the entire fishery. The Council is expected to review, and hopefully approve, the proposal of the Reef Fish Management Committee this Thursday, January 29. Stay tuned…