Photo by: Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental
Environmental groups recently announced that a total of 351 loggerhead sea turtles have been found dead so far this year in the same area of Baja California coastline where authorities also found 137 dead, beached sea lions last week.
The Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) recorded 351 dead loggerhead turtles on San Lázaro beach in Baja California Sur. In addition, stranded sea lions have been found at the site.
In accordance with the provisions of the fishing refuge regulation, it is established that the allowable limit of turtles per year is 90 total. If this yellow turtle mortality limit is reached, commercial fishing with gillnets, falsework or longlines must be suspended for the rest of the year.
Given the situation, Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental together with the Center for Biological Diversity, are asking Mexico’s National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission (Conapesca) to comply with the fishing refuge provisions that they have established. The organizations are also asking PROFEPA to be transparent during the investigation into the sea turtle deaths.
The mortality of marine wildlife is not new in the area. Since last year, 331 loggerhead turtles, 10 dolphins, 15 sea lions, 131 black sea turtles, 18 olive ridley turtles, and 6 whales were found dead. According to information obtained through La Plataforma Nacional de Transparencia (the National Transparency Platform), in 2018, 459 loggerhead turtles and 97 black turtles were also found dead.
“We are concerned that the loggerhead turtle mortality in the Gulf of Ulloa is worsening and that the environmental authorities continue to fail to enforce the applicable regulation,” said Mario Sánchez, Director of CEMDA’s Northwest regional office, in a statement. “The finding of the 137 sea lions killed last week is evidence of the serious situation facing marine species in this area. It is urgent that the Federal Government address this problem, strengthening the capacity of environmental and fisheries institutions, allocating an adequate budget.”
“In the case of loggerhead turtles, they have been victims of fishing nets,” said Alejandro Olivera, a Center for Biological Diversity representative in Mexico. According to the rules of the fishing refuge, Conapesca should have a program of technical assistants and scientific observers on board the fisheries, which would have better information on the deaths of these marine species.
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