The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Mexico Risks U.S. Trade Embargo After Deaths of 700+ Endangered Sea Turtles
Mexico faces the threat of a trade embargo from the U.S. for failing to protect endangered North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles from getting entangled in fishing gear off the Baja California’s Gulf of Ulloa. Last week state government officials in Mexico reported that 705 loggerheads have stranded dead along a 30-mile shoreline so far this year, most during the summer fishing season, including 30 dead turtles in a single day. That’s more turtles than normally wash ashore annually along the U.S. coast from Texas to the Carolinas. Long-term scientific studies show that the leading cause of these deaths is preventable drowning in fishing gear; yet Mexican officials have claimed that only one percent of the reported turtle deaths were caused by bycatch.
“Loggerhead sea turtles are dying by the thousands along the Mexico coast,” said Sarah Uhlemann, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The United States can ban the import of fish and other wildlife products from nations that fail to protect imperiled species, and this is a clear case where such strong action is necessary.”
The Pelly Amendment gives the U.S. the authority to embargo fish and other wildlife products from countries that violate wildlife-protection treaties, including the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles. A separate law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, authorizes sanctions against countries that allow excessive bycatch of U.S.-protected species, like loggerhead sea turtles.
Loggerhead mortality rates in the Gulf of Ulloa, as reported by the Mexican government as well as numerous scientific studies over the past decade, are among the highest documented in the world.
“Based on two decades of collaborative research we concluded that the main cause of these deaths is bycatch in fishing nets,” said Wallace 'J.' Nichols, Ph.D., a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences. “Even the Mexican government’s own scientists have pointed to bycatch.”
The Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources, the Mexican National Commission for Protected Areas, and the Mexican National Institute of Fisheries, all Mexican government agencies, have acknowledged research that identifies bycatch as the main cause. Studies conducted at the Gulf of Ulloa, backed by research in the U.S., show that turtles washed ashore represent a small fraction of the thousands killed.
“The Mexican government has ignored their own science and misrepresented the cause of turtle deaths in an attempt to appease the fishing industry and mislead the U.S. government,” said Juan Carlos Cantu, program director of Defenders of Wildlife Mexico. “In the announcement of the latest loggerhead mortality figures they claimed that a survey of the carcasses showed that only one percent of deaths were caused by bycatch. When turtles drown in gillnets, however, there is almost never any physical proof that can be gathered short of performing an autopsy.”
The Mexican state government put forth the purportedly low bycatch rate without performing the procedures necessary to support its claim.
“Proven sustainable fishing solutions can solve the high loggerhead mortality rate, but Mexico has shown an insufficient willingness to act,” said Alejandro Olivera of the Baja California Sur-based Mexican Center for Environmental Rights (CEMDA). “It is in their interest to do so before this becomes an international crisis. It would be tragic for this situation to lead to an embargo when we have world-class science and viable solutions available.”
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."