UN / SEA TURTLE RESTORATION

06-Jun-2005
The Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP) fights to protect endangered sea turtles in ways that make cultural and economic sense to the communities that share the beaches and waters with these gentle creatures. STRP has been leading the international fight to protect sea turtle populations worldwide. UNTV

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STORY: UN SEA / TURTLE RESTORATION

TRT: 2.30

SOURCE: UNTV / EARTH VIEWS PRODUCTIONS (TURTLE RESTORATION NETWORK)

RESTRICTIONS: NO ACCESS TURTLE FOOTAGE -- APTN LIBRARY

LANGUAGE: CH 1 ENGLISH / NATS
CH 2 ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 6 JUNE 2005, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

6 MAY 2005, NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, exterior, United Nations headquarters
2. Med shot, Sea Turtle Restoration Project
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Jim Spotila, Betz Chair Professor of Environmental Science, Drexel University and Chairman Leatherback Task Force:
"Turtles, loggerheads and leatherbacks in the Pacific have a 65 percent chance of getting caught on a longline every year. So that means a turtle will be caught on average, once every two years. Mortality rate, oh it's only ten or twenty percent, (twenty-five percent). How many years does it take to die if you get caught every two years? On a longline and your chance is one in five you're going to die from that experience? Ten years, maybe? These animals are long lived, they survive by producing lots of eggs and living a long time in order to successfully reproduce. Their life span is being cut short by industrial fishing, long lining. So we really need to take a brake, we need to take a moratorium on long lines and find out how we can keep these animals alive."

EARTH VIEWS PRODUCTIONS

4. Various shots, baby leatherback turtles making their way to sea

6 MAY 2005, NEW YORK CITY

5. SOUNDBITE (English) Jim Spotila, Betz Chair Professor of Environmental Science, Drexel University and Chairman Leatherback Task Force:
"We have to realize that what humans are doing to these animals in the Oceans could be easily termed ecological genocide. That's what we're doing; we're worried about genocide of people, it's terrible to have genocide people, I'm not trying to make light of it but we're essentially committing ecological genocide in the Pacific and other oceans."

EARTH VIEWS PRODUCTIONS

6. Various shots, adult leatherbacks swimming in sea

6 MAY 2005, NEW YORK CITY

7. SOUNDBITE (English) Robert Ovetz, Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator, Seat Turtle Restoration Project:
"Convention of the law of the sea has neglected to put the issue of long lining and the crisis of pelagic species, including bill fish, sea turtles, tuna, sword fish, sea birds and sharks and marine mammals on the agenda of the Law of the sea. We are facing a crisis and we are urging the law of the sea convention to immediately address this issue."

EARTH VIEWS PRODUCTIONS

8. Wide shot, adult leatherback on surface of ocean
9. Med shot, adult leatherback underwater with fish picking at its head
10. Various shots, adult leatherback crawling over sand and into sea


STORYLINE:

The oceans were in a deep crisis and one of the biggest threats to high-seas biodiversity was high-seas industrial longline fishing, Robert Ovetz, Coordinator, Save the Leatherback Campaign of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project told correspondents today at a Headquarters press conference.

Other participants in the press conference, sponsored by Costa Rica's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, were: Jim Spitola, Betz Chair Professor of Environmental Science, Drexel University, and Chairman, Leatherback Task Force; Jeff Canin, representative of Humane Society International; and Todd Steiner, Executive Director, Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP).

Mr. Ovetz said 1,007 international scientists and 281 non-governmental organizations from 64 countries had signed a letter addressed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, urging the United Nations to implement a moratorium on high-seas industrial longline fishing until such time that the species currently under threat were no longer in danger of extinction, depletion or overfishing. He stressed that such a moratorium was an interim measure as part of a larger plan of action outlined in STRP's report "Striplining the Pacific".

Mr. Spitola said the Pacific leatherback turtle had declined from approximately 1,300 turtles nesting during 1988-1989 in Las Baulas Park, Costa Rica to around 150 in 2000. In the past year, there were 49 individual animals nesting. That trend followed the decline in Malaysia and in Mexico and would lead to the extinction of the Pacific leatherbacks. Only 20 per cent of electronically-tracked leatherback turtles were coming back to the nesting place a second time.

They were dying at a rate of 20 per cent per year. Leatherback and loggerhead turtles in the Pacific Ocean had a 65 per cent chance of getting caught on longlines every year, with a chance of one in five of dying from each experience. What humans were doing to the animals in the ocean could easily be termed as "ecological genocide".

Mr. Steiner said there was a need for a vision of "living seas" in order to sustain life on the planet. Most of the planet consisted of oceans, which were being destroyed at a remarkable rate. A moratorium on industrial longline fishing was not about closing down fishing, but about creating a world where such species as whales, sea turtles and humans could co-exist.

Local community fisheries were wiped out around the world by the industrial fishing technology, impacting humans and wildlife. About 4.4 million wildlife species were killed in the Pacific Ocean every year, including 3 million sharks, 100,000 marlin, hundreds of thousands of sea birds and 50,000 sea turtles. He, therefore, called for a moratorium for the short term until ways were found for sustainable fishing.

He also called for marine protected areas. Local and recreational fishing should be allowed to fish, as should recreational fishers, but there was a need to reduce capacity in industrial fishing.

Mr. Canin, noting that 19 of the 21 species of albatross were threatened with extinction mainly because of incidental capture in fisheries, said the Human Society International had called for a moratorium on longline fishing until the regional fishery management organizations could manage the fisheries under their control on a sustainable basis. They must deal with the ecosystem as a whole, not just with the targeted species.

"The history of fishing is just a litany of overfishing", he said. There had been very few instances of fisheries managed on a sustainable basis. He, therefore, called on the United Nations to institutionalize an ecosystem approach. The "raping and pillaging" of the oceans also affected the food supply of small island developing States in the Pacific region. There was a need for a multinational approach such as the United Nations could provide.

In concluding remarks, Mr. Ovetz said industrial longline fishing was striplining the Pacific not only of sea turtles, sea birds, sharks and marine mammals, but also of the very fish on which 1 billion people relied on for their daily protein sustenance. In the Pacific, the population of large, predatory fish, including tuna and billfish, had declined by 87 per cent over the past 50 years as a direct consequence of industrial longline fishing. He urged the States parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to take measures in order to immediately establish marine protected areas.

Answering correspondents' questions on the length of a moratorium, Mr. Steiner said that, if no drastic action was taken now, the leatherback turtles would be extinct within a period of 5 to 30 years. He hoped a moratorium would be in place within a year. As the leatherbacks were a long-lived species, it would take a long time to see results. There was a need for "rational" proposals to reduce the amount of 5 million hooks placed daily in longline fishing.

The moratorium needed to be in place for a short time, while the regional fisheries management organizations reined in the industrial fishing technology, put real enforcement ability in place and came up with some rational policies. Mr. Spotila said that the length of a moratorium depended on the species. Leatherback turtles needed a longline-fishing break of five to ten years to "catch up". If, in the meantime, a method could be found not to kill leatherbacks, the moratorium could be lifted.

Asked about the procedure to be followed in order to attain a moratorium, Mr. Ovetz said the Law of the Sea Convention was being asked to direct the regional fisheries management organizations in the Pacific -- the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission -- to implement and enforce their regional jurisdiction under a moratorium, and establish marine protected areas to protect the migratory feeding and breeding habitats of sea turtles and other species at risk.

The Convention would also be asked to implement the recommendation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to reduce longline fishing capacity. As of yet, the Convention had neglected to put the crisis of longlining and the crisis of pelagic species and sea mammals on its agenda.

Recommendations could be made during the informal consultative process of the Law of the Sea Convention, he said. A report of the Secretary-General would then make a recommendation for a moratorium to the General Assembly in the form of a draft resolution, on which the Assembly would take action.

Mr. Steiner added that the General Assembly had the ability to take the necessary action, as it had done in the early 1990s by implementing a moratorium on pelagic driftnets.
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