Kids Across the Country Join Oceana and OMG in Fight to Save Sea Turtles
U.S. Government Allows Thousands of Sea Turtles to be Killed in Shrimp Trawl Nets Every Year
Press Release Date: February 17, 2016
Washington — Today, Oceana and One More Generation have teamed up to launch a new joint campaign to encourage the Obama administration to save sea turtles in the Southeast and Gulf. Every year, thousands of sea turtles are caught and killed as bycatch, which is the catch of non-target fish and ocean wildlife, by the southeast shrimp trawl fishery.
As part of the new campaign, Oceana and One More Generation are calling on the next generation of sea turtle lovers to write a letter or draw a picture telling President Obama and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker why they love sea turtles and why they should be protected. The groups will collect these letters and deliver them to the President and the Secretary of Commerce on World Sea Turtle Day (June 16, 2016).
“It hurts my heart to know that 50,000 endangered and threatened sea turtles could be needlessly drowning every year in shrimp trawl fishing nets, just because some shrimp fishermen are not using TED’s, which are proven to be 97 percent effective at preventing the deaths of captured sea turtles,” said Olivia Ries, co-founder of One More Generation. “Please help us show President Obama and his team that kids all over care about saving sea turtles by sending us your letter today. Remember, anybody can make a difference… if we can, you can too.”
With this new campaign, Oceana and One More Generation are calling on the federal government to require Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on all shrimp trawls in U.S. waters, which are devices inserted into a net that allow captured turtles to escape before they drown. TEDs are already required on certain types of shrimp trawls, called otter trawls, but other types of nets are exempt from this requirement. Additionally, recent research has found that reducing a TED’s bar space by only 1 inch could reduce fish caught accidently by 25 percent, potentially saving 55 million pounds of seafood, as well as thousands of sea turtles that had previously been too small to use the TED to escape. It’s estimated that the southeast shrimp trawl fishery discards 64 percent of what it catches, equaling over 229 million pounds of fish each year.
“This is a rare opportunity for the federal government to have a huge impact just through a simple change. Issuing a strong TED requirement would not only help sea turtle populations recover, but would also benefit the entire Southeast region which depends on healthy ocean ecosystems,” said Oceana campaign director Lora Snyder. “Requiring TEDs on all U.S. shrimp vessels would be a win-win for sea turtle populations, fishermen, seafood consumers and the Southeast and Gulf region.”
Currently, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has “red-listed” most shrimp caught by Southeast skimmer trawls, due to their lack of a TED-requirement. This has effectively barred these fishermen from selling their product in over 13,000 retail establishments around the country that follow the Aquarium’s recommendations. In contrast, the shrimp landed by Southeast otter trawls, as well as by all shrimp trawlers in Florida, are considered a “Good Alternative,” due to their required use of TEDs.
To learn more about Oceana’s work protecting sea turtles, as well as download materials to send your own letter, including a factsheet and letter and drawing templates, please visit usa.oceana.org/turtles. Please send your letters no later than May 23, 2016 to either of the addresses listed below. Letters may also be scanned and emailed:
Attn: Save Sea Turtles
1350 Connecticut Ave. NW 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
One More Generation
Attn: Save Sea Turtles
P.O. Box 143627
Fayetteville GA 30214
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America, Asia, and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org
One More Generation (OMG) is a youth founded nonprofit organization founded back in 2009 by two enterprising students who are trying to make a difference. OMG aims to inspire youth around the world to get involved in many of the issues today’s youth are inheriting and to realize that they too can make a difference. To learn more visit OneMoreGeneration.org