Protect Marine Wildlife
Sea Turtles: Victories
Under pressure from scientists and conservation groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) denied a proposal to allow drift gillnet vessels to operate in an area off the California and Oregon coasts where such fishing is seasonally banned to protect the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle. The drift gillnet fishery, which targets swordfish, tuna and sharks, also kills not just endangered sea turtles, but humpback, fin, gray and sperm whales, several species of dolphins and other marine mammals.
Oceana hailed Congress's decision to more than double the funding for federal fishery observer programs. Fishery observers are independent scientists who work alongside fishermen at sea to collect data on what is caught incidentally and thrown overboard. This increase in funding, made in the 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, is a significant first step towards improved management of our nation's fisheries.