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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Scientists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Denver have warned that Leatherback turtles could go extinct within a 10 to 30 years if current fishing practices continue.

In addition to poachers taking eggs from beaches the 4 million baited hooks that are used every day to catch tuna + swordfish often ensnare leatherback turtles as an unintended by-catch. When turtles try to eat the bait anywhere on the 60km long fishing line they can become snared and as they need air to breathe once they become exhausted they drown.

In order to reduce this problem the hooks could be redesigned, longline fishing could be banned in certain areas + the total amount of fishing limited.

In a related story that Earth-Info.Net posted last November we learnt that many large, wide-ranging seabirds such as albatross + petrels also drown on tuna longlines in the world's southern oceans. These birds could also be better protected by different fishing practices + reductions in illegal fishing.