Friday, January 23, 2009

Costa Rica Longline Fisherman Saves 4 Leatherbacks

Finally a story with a happy ending. All of this could have been prevented if longline fishing was illegal globally. Please stop eating fish because it is so bad for all my little friends that live in the ocean.


Selfless Act Of Marine Conservation By Costa Rican Fishermen Will Result In Thousands Of Potential Turtle

(January 14, 2009 San José, Costa Rica) – Captian Rafael Fallas and his crew aboard the fishing vessel “Don Christopher”, based out of Playas del Coco, Costa Rica, have freed three female leatherback sea turtles and one male leatherback this season, all of which were snagged on fishing hooks. The selfless act of marine conservation has cost the captain and crew hours of their own time and money as they wrestled the massive reptiles onboard and untangle their shells and flippers from the fishing lines. Female leatherbacks can grow up to two meters in length and nest four to five times a season from October to March on the Pacific coast. They lay an average of 80-90 eggs per nest, meaning the time Captain Fallas and his crew took to release the snagged turtles will potentially yield over a thousand hatchlings this nesting season alone.

“Four leatherback turtles hooked in a single year, this is something I haven’t seen in a long time”, said a surprised Fallas, a veteran fisherman of more than 20 years. “Leatherbacks are only rarely caught nowadays, they are almost extinct, which is why we do everything we can to save these endangered animals and release them unharmed”, informed Fallas.

Four adult leatherback turtles represent a significant percentage of the Eastern Tropical Pacific’s leatherback population, which has declined 95% during the last decades, and now face possible extinction in the next 5-30 years if current disruptions to their migratory routes by the fisheries industry and destruction of nesting habitats from beachfront development projects and poachers are not addressed. Captain Fallas’ altruistic act highlights a change in the Costa Rican fishing community’s awareness to protect this species along the Pacific coast.

“For years, Costa Rica has focused its attention on protecting the leatherback’s nesting beaches, but now it´s time for Costa Rica to work more actively on protecting the leatherback at sea”, advised Randall Arauz, President of the Costa Rican NGO Pretoma. “This will require proper zoning of fisheries activities in coastal and pelagic waters during leatherback migrations, and major political lobbying in international forums for regional agreements”, said Arauz.

With its populations devastated by habitat destruction and unsustainable fishing practices, Costa Rican leatherbacks have been the epicenter of marine turtle conservation efforts for over a decade. “We’re seeing the results of years of research projects and educational campaigns aimed at children as well as the fishing community”, explained Andy Bystrom, Pretoma’s communications coordinador. “Captain Fallas and his crew are excellent examples of how individual fishermen hold the power to help save a species from extinction, and I hope other fisheries, for example foreign fleets that traffic shark fins, will work in solidarity to do the same”.

Costa Rica’s Pacific leatherbacks swim thousands of kilometers along their migratory routs each year. Their arrival in coastal waters represents the culmination of this arduous journey. “Fishermen like Captain Fallas, who take the time to release a snagged leatherback, play a crucial role in the species’ survival by ensuring that these animals successfully complete their journeys and nest on Costa Rica’s Pacific beaches”, said Andrés López, Pretoma’s Fisheries Coordinator. “These fishermen are also taking time to release other endangered species unharmed, such as small sized sharks, which is very encouraging now that Shark Action Plans are being implemented in the region”, said an enthusiastic López.

Press release courtesy of


lady jicky said...

Bravo to him Stubby - may he get Big Sea Karma for being so kind!

Stubby said...

Lady Jicky - I would send him some kisses, but I think the sea karma is an even better idea. May he have good fortune on the ocean always. Mom said that a bunch of people are getting together to send him a thank you card. The leatherbacks need all the help they can get.

lady jicky said...

Oh Stubby - Kenzo is taking typing lessons so he may be taking over the keyboard!