Petition Demands Protection of Sea Turtles in Commercial Fishing

Petition Demands Protection of Sea Turtles in Commercial Fishing

Friend of the Sea honors World Sea Turtles Day by launching a petition urging use of Turtle Excluder Devices to reduce sea turtle bycatch

Friend of the Sea, the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that promotes sustainable seafood production, today announced that it has launched a new petition urging governments to protect sea turtles, which are often killed as a bycatch in commercial fishing operations. The organization has initiated the petition in honor of World Sea Turtles Day, which is on June 16. Specifically, the petition asks that governments mandate the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), Circle Hooks or equivalent bycatch reduction measures to reduce damage done to the sea turtle population.

Friend of the Sea also manages a Turtle-Safe certification to award fleets which already implemented turtles bycatch reduction measures. Several vessels have already applied. The certification will allow consumers and buyers to be reassured about the way the products have been fished and in turn it will motivate more shipowners to implement TEDs. The project is run in collaboration with Tarta-Life.

We feel this is a good new situation, because there are proven measures to protect turtles, and they do not have a negative impact on the commercial viability of the fishing process,” said Paolo Bray, Director of Friend of the Sea. “This petition is not asking for the impossible. We’re asking for a reasonable, effective step that can make a big difference in the marine environment.” A TED device allows a captured sea turtle to escape when caught in a fisherman’s net. Widespread use of TEDs is projected to save more than one million turtles per year. Currently, not all countries make TEDs and Circle Hooks mandatory. 

Sea turtles tend to get caught inbottom trawling, which is a common technique in the shrimp fishing industry.The process results in large amounts of other marine organisms being also caught as bycatch. When turtles get caught or entangled in a trawl net, they become trapped and are unable to return to the surface. Since sea turtles are air-breathing creatures with lungs, they eventually drown. The petition is available at Change.org