The Pacific leatherback sea turtle, at up to 2,200 pounds the largest turtle on earth, could disappear from our oceans, yet Trump regulators have OK’d a type of fishing that could wipe out the massive animals.
Pacific leatherback sea turtles are one of eight turtle species the Fisheries Service has identified as most at risk of extinction. The number of West Pacific leatherback sea turtles declined about 6% a year from the 1980s through 2011.
An estimated 562 nesting female adults survive now. In 2040, that number is projected to drop to 260 adult females in 2040, so few that leatherbacks likely could not make a comeback.
Despite this, in April the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a two-year permit to allow two boats to fish for swordfish 50 to 200 miles off the coast of California and Oregon using fishing lines with hundreds of baited hooks. The lines, up to 62 miles long, also catch turtles, seals and birds. David Haworth, captain of the Pacific Horizon, and John Gibbs, captain of Southern Horizon, are named in the permit.
The Trump administration sees the issue through a very different lens, concerned not about the potential extinction of a species, so much as American trade in seafood.
“By value, nearly 90% of the seafood” Americans eat is imported and more than half of that is from aquaculture such as salmon raised in pens in the oceans, according to the Commerce Department. The U.S. imported $14 billion more seafood in 2016 than it exported.
The amount of swordfish caught off the West Coast has declined 96% since 1985, in large part because of the decrease in fishing with mile-long gillnets. They are called ”walls of death” because the hundred foot high webs trap fish by their gills.
In September, Jerry Brown, then the California governor, signed a law to ban gillnets to catch swordfish.
The miles-long baited hooks lines make for efficiency for fishing boat operators, but at a huge cost in deaths of sea life other than swordfish that get caught on the hooks.
Duke professor Martin D. Smith, the president-elect of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, criticized the “naïve belief that the seafood trade deficit should be a national concern” could harm our planet’s oceans.
In 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a case from Hawaii that the fisheries service improperly minimized the risk of longline fishing to loggerhead sea turtles, another type of endangered turtle. In that case, the federal court in Hawaii ordered the fishery to close through Dec. 31, 2018.
The fisheries service asserted that there would be no significant impact on leatherback sea turtles from longline fishing. The fisheries service said longline practices have changed to reduce the number of sea turtles killed.
Longline fishing would not be allowed in 16,910 square miles of ocean off the California coast that is designated as leatherback critical habitat. Observers would be on the boats, and fishing would end if a leatherback turtle is killed under the permit issued by the Trump administration.
The real DC showdown: Pelosi vs. Trump
Love her or hate her, Nancy Pelosi is a classy, effective and persuasive Speaker.
Repeatedly through the Trump presidency, she has stepped up to offer just the right gesture, just the right opinion, just the right level of evenness or passion that proves effective in making the role of leadership believable.
Along the way, she manages to count votes, keep her caucus in line and stand up for a totally understandable and admirable bar of justice and American value, for the Constitution itself.
Her statements yesterday in outlining in measured tones the reasoning that Donald Trump’s actions have left “no choice” but moving forward towards impeachment were well-said, logical, and belied the emotion behind them.
Congress schooled in the Constitution: Impeachment hearing was less about the answers than about the questions
The opening of the new round of impeachment inquiries before the House Judiciary Committee was less about the answers than about the questions.
If you were a Democrat, you asked questions that prompted the constitutional scholars present to pin the available evidence about Team Trump to a rogue plot to trade Ukrainian recognition and military aid for Donald Trump’s personal political gain.
If you were a Republican, you asked about anything else, from historical precedents about elapsed time, about the meaning of bribery in the 18th Century, about non-existent testimony about Joe and Hunter Biden.
The Army just quietly re-opened its infamous germ warfare lab that experiments with Ebola, plague and other deadly toxins
Research at a secretive Army germ warfare lab about 50 miles from Washington, D.C. that works with tularemia, which spreads more easily than anthrax, has been partially restarted after a federal inspection found two failures in containing unnamed germs or toxins.
No one was exposed to any germs or toxins at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Maryland, according to the institute commander. The institute, once the fiefdom of Sidney Gottlieb who conducted LSD mind-control experiments for the CIA, has a long history of safety lapses.