Protecting Sea Turtles
Under pressure from Oceana and other conservation groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service denied an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) proposed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which would have allowed the use of drift gillnets in the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area off the coast of California. Since the closure was established in 2001, not one leatherback has been reported killed in the drift gillnet fishery. Despite this remarkable success, the PFMC approved an EFP that would have reopened the Conservation Area to drift gillnets during the critical months when turtles are foraging off California and Oregon. In denying the permit, NMFS cited a recent scientific study which underscores the importance of nearshore waters off the U.S. west coast as critical foraging habitat for migrating leatherback turtles.