[Coral-List] FW: Urge the UN to Protect Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles

Szmant, Alina szmanta at uncw.edu
Fri May 7 14:43:21 EDT 2004

Hello Colleagues:

Not exactly a common coral reef organism, but still worthy of our attention and protection.  Hope many of you that have not been aware of this campaign will sign on.


Alina Szmant

Dr. Alina M. Szmant 
Coral Reef Research Group 
Professor of Biology 
Center for Marine Science 
University of North Carolina at Wilmington 
5600  Marvin K. Moss Lane 
Wilmington  NC  28409-5928 
tel  (910)962-2362  fax  (910)962-2410 
email  szmanta at uncw.edu 

-----Original Message-----
From: Dr. Sylvia Earle [mailto:saearle at tirn.net] 
Sent: Friday, May 07, 2004 12:16 PM
To: UN scientistswhohavealreadysigned.2
Subject: Urge the UN to Protect Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles
Importance: High

Dear leatherback sea turtle supporter,

Below you will find a copy of a letter from Dr. Sylvia Earle and a statement
of concerned scientists addressed to the UN you graciously signed in

To date, 420 scientists from 43 countries have already signed onto this
statement. Your voice has generated significant international attention with
a full page ad in the New York Times in Febraury 2003 and widespread
international media coverage.

Unfortunately, the leatherback is not out of danger and our campaign

We would like to update you on the progress since you signed and ask you to
help us further circulate this letter to your colleagues.

Since this statement was originally submitted to the United Nations about
one year ago, the UN has begun to take a number of actions to direct its
attention to the plight of the leatherback. The UN Food and Agriculture
Organization has initiated a ³consultation² on the bycatch of sea turtles
and UN General Assembly resolution 58/14 in November 2003 expressed concern
for the bycatch of sea turtles and has initiated a process for
non-governmental organizations and scientists to comment on the problem.

If you could take the time to forward this email to 5-10 of your colleagues
for their signature and submit it at your scientific meetings it would help
our continuing efforts to save the leatherback sea turtle from extinction.

Thank you for your effort and support!

Robert Ovetz, Ph.D.
Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator
Sea Turtle Restoration Project
PO Box 400
Forest Knolls, CA 94933

+1 415 488 0370 ext. 106
+1 415 488 0372 (fax)

Dear fellow scientist,

I write to obtain your support to help save the leatherback sea turtle and
protect our oceans. If you have already received this message from me or a
colleague who has forwarded it, and if you have already responded, please
pass on this message to other colleagues. Apologies to all who responded to
this message before--your signature has been greatly appreciated.

In April, 2002 I joined leading sea turtle and marine experts from around
the Pacific to review the latest data on the Pacific leatherback sea
turtle's extinction crisis. We were deeply concerned by the urgency of the
problem. These magnificent creatures may go extinct within the next 10-15
years if we don't act now, largely because industrial fishing is an
increasingly critical threat.

I urge you to help save the leatherback sea turtle by signing the letter,
pasted below and attached, as soon as you can. Your support is critical to
our efforts to push for actions at the national and international levels.

To sign the letter, send a reply message to saearle at tirn.net with the

Title (position or occupation, not Mr, Dr, etc):
Organizational affiliation:
Mailing address: 
Email address: 
Phone number: 

(The privacy of your contact information is respected and will be for the
private use of Sea Turtle Restoration Project only. If neither your title
nor organization clearly convey that you work with science in general,
please provide a brief explanation how you work with science.  Ph.D students
and professors: please provide your department.)

Please also distribute this message to your scientist friends and colleagues
in order to help obtain more signatures for this important letter.

If you prefer, the letter also can be signed by calling +1 415.488.0370 ext.
106 (U.S.), faxing +1 415.488.0372 (U.S.) or mailing it to: Sea Turtle
Restoration Project, P.O. Box 400, Forest Knolls, CA 94933, USA.

For more information see


or contact the Sea Turtle Restoration Project (robert at seaturtles.org), which
is helping to distribute this important letter.

Sincerely yours, 

Sylvia Earle 
Explorer in Residence, National Geographic Society
Executive Director for Marine Programs, Conservation International


May 5, 2004

Since this letter was originally submitted about one year ago, the United
Nations has begun to take a number of actions to direct its attention to the
plight of the leatherback. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has
initiated a ³consultation² on the bycatch of sea turtles and UN General
Assembly resolution 58/14 of November 2003 expressed concern for the bycatch
of sea turtles and has initiated a process for non-governmental
organizations and scientists to comment on the problem. For updates contact:
robert at seaturtles.org

An International Call by Leading Scientists to Reverse the
Pacific Leatherback's Extinction Trajectory

Originally issued July 2002

As scientists concerned about the health of our oceans, we have joined
together in support of fishing policies that ensure the long-term survival
of targeted fish populations, endangered marine species and the
fishing-related economy.

In recent decades the impact of commercial fishing on ocean ecosystems has
dramatically increased, and we are confronted with the unprecedented reality
that we are rapidly depleting the oceans¹ resources. The oceans, once
mistakenly thought to be inexhaustible, clearly are not.

The United Nations reports over 70% percent of global fish populations are
overfished or at the brink of being overfished, compared to just 5% reported
only 40 years ago. Moreover, indiscriminate commercial fishing practices
wastefully harm and kill millions of non-targeted animals per year, causing
unsustainable mortality to sea turtles, sea birds, bluefin tuna, swordfish
and sharks. 

The Pacific leatherback sea turtle is at the top of the list of species
being driven to the brink of extinction by increased efforts of global
industrial fishing. The Pacific leatherback turtle¹s nesting population has
plummeted from 91,000 in 1980 to fewer than 5,000 in 2002. Recent studies
warn that unless immediate and significant steps are taken, the world¹s
largest and most wide-ranging sea turtle will soon become extinct.

The plight of the leatherback sea turtle foreshadows a host of extinction
events that may significantly alter the oceans¹ ecosystem functions.
Leatherbacks have swum the Earth¹s oceans for over 100 million years and are
part of a complex web of life that is rapidly unraveling.  If we allow the
leatherback to vanish from the oceans, we alter the balance that exists
amongst predators and prey and risk the future of a host of other marine

Leading sea turtle biologists and ocean experts recognize that pelagic
longline and gillnet fishing pose the principal immediate threats to Pacific
leatherback turtles at sea, while the exploitation of eggs and destruction
of nesting habitat are key threats during their short terrestrial existence.

Recognizing that measures that protect leatherbacks at sea also will benefit
a wide assemblage of marine species that are either targeted or incidentally
captured by these indiscriminate fishing methods,

We the undersigned:

- Call on the United Nations, United States and other nations to institute a
moratorium on pelagic longline, gillnet and other fishing techniques that
harm Pacific leatherback sea turtles until such activities can be conducted
without harm to the species;

- Urge fishing nations to reduce the overall quantity of fishing effort to
enable the long-term survival of targeted fish populations and the fishers
and communities who depend on them;

- Call on pelagic longline and gillnet fisheries to assess their impacts and
implement precautionary fishing principles in other impacted ocean basins,
to avoid similar extinction crises among sea turtles, tuna, swordfish,
sharks, seabirds and other affected species;

- Request that the governments of all nations where Pacific leatherback
turtles nest immediately protect these sites, stop egg collection and
maximize hatchling survival; and

- Urge that transitional aid be allocated to fishers and communities who are
impacted by shifts in policy that move the human species toward the
sustainable use of the oceans.

The measures outlined above will help people worldwide who depend on the
oceans for their livelihood and sustenance. And we feel these actions are
necessary to enable marine species such as the leatherback sea turtle to
survive and flourish.


* Original signatures as of August 12, 2002. Affiliations for identification
purposes only.

Sylvia Earle
Explorer in Residence
National Geographic Society

Larry B. Crowder
Stephen Toth Professor of Marine Biology
Duke University Marine Laboratory

David Ehrenfeld
Professor of Biology
Cook College in Rutgers University

Paul R. Ehrlich
President, Center for Conservation Biology
Stanford University

Thomas Eisner
Professor of Biololgy
Cornell University

Daniel H. Janzen
Professor of Biology
University of Pennsylvania

Thomas E. Lovejoy
The Heinz Center for Science
Economics and the Environment

Peter H. Raven
Missouri Botanical Garden and Washington University in St. Louis

Carl Safina 
Vice President for Ocean Conservation
National Audubon Society

Edward O. Wilson
University Research Professor, Emeritus
Harvard University

Niki Alcock
National Institute of Water and Atmosphere Research Ltd.
New Zealand

Lucy Ali-
Asociaci-n de Rescate de Fauna

Miaya A. Armstrong
Laboratory Manager

Aslan Baco
GIS Specialist
Wildlife Conservation Society-Indonesia Program

Belinda Barnett
Department of Zoology

Harry Barthel
Dive Medical Technician
Hyperbaric Services Thailand/Subaquatic Safety Services

Kent Beaman
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Elizabeth Anne Berkemer
External Affairs Assistant
Florida Aquarium

Christiane Biermann
Independent Investigator
Friday Harbor Laboratories

Marny Bonner
Australian Seabird Rescue - Marine Turtle Division

Lorien Cahill Braun
Dive Interpreter
The Florida Aquarium

And 420 other scientists from 43 countries.


More information about the Coral-List mailing list