For Immediate Release, December 17, 2020

Contact:

Alejandro Olivera, Center for Biological Diversity, +52 612 104 0604, aolivera@biologicaldiversity.org
Ricardo Ruiz, Mexican Center for Environmental Law, +52 5559644162, ricardo_ruiz@cemda,org.mx

Petition Seeks USMCA Review of Mexico’s Loggerhead Sea Turtle Deaths

Hundreds of Sea Turtles Die Every Year as Bycatch in Fishing Gear

MONTREAL— The Center for Biological Diversity and the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda) filed a petition today under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement over the government of Mexico’s failure to protect endangered north Pacific loggerhead sea turtles from fishing gear entanglements.

Today’s USMCA petition to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation notes that loggerheads frequently drown in fishing nets off the Mexican coast. The reptiles are born in Japan and migrate to U.S. and Mexican waters.

“The Mexican government’s failure to protect loggerheads from deadly entanglements could bring a tragic end to their millions of years of migrating to our coast,” said Alejandro Olivera, senior scientist and Mexico representative for the Center for Biological Diversity. “If Mexico keeps letting fishing gear kill these magnificent animals by the hundreds, they face a real threat of extinction. Under the USMCA agreement, Mexican officials have a legal obligation to stop this carnage.”

According to Mexico’s official data, 889 dead loggerheads were found dead on the west coast of Baja California Sur from 2017 to 2019. While statistics for 2020 have not yet been fully released, between just January to June this year, 351 more loggerheads were found dead. Thousands of these turtles have likely died in the past decade because of entanglement in gillnet and longline gear.

Because of Mexico’s failure to effectively apply existing environmental legislation to protect the loggerheads, the groups filed a Submission on Enforcement Matters petition with the commission under Chapter 24 of the USCMA, the renegotiated NAFTA treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada.

“The Mexican authorities have failed to protect and conserve the endangered loggerhead sea turtle,” said Mario Sánchez, Cemda’s representative in the northwest. “Now we are looking to raise this issue under the new USMCA provisions, given that this sea turtles also inhabit U.S. waters.”

As part of the process, today’s petition and the loggerhead bycatch problem will be discussed by high-level environmental authorities from each nation. If the petition is accepted, the commission will develop a detailed “factual record” that assesses Mexico’s compliance with the environmental law.

Dead_sea_turtle_by_Alex_Olivera_Center_for_Biological_Diversity_FPWC-scr.jpg
Stranded loggerhead sea turtle at San Lazaro Beach, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo by Alex Olivera/Center for Biological Diversity. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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