<%-- Page Title--%> Wildlife <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 124 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

September 26 , 2003

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Save the Sea Turtles



Cancun, Mexico, September 12 ,2003 -- Robert Ovetz, PhD., marine species campaigner for the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, silently dragged a puppet of a dead Pacific Leatherback sea turtle through the WTO convention center ground floor. Wearing a sign reading "Save the Sea Turtles. NO WTO!" The activist worked his way around the passive NGOs, media and delegates until resting before a crowd where he spoke on the link between the massacre of sea turtles by free trade. "Free trade is the problem, not the solution" he explained. He was able to deliver a 10 minute speech on the impacts of free trade on the marine environment before being escorted out of the WTO meeting.

Unregulated high seas longline swordfishing by large industrial fleets have not only depleted this fishery but are slaughtering thousands of endangered leatherbacks. Leatherbacks, whose population has declined to 5% of their numbers only 20 years ago, are caught along with millions of sharks, sea birds, dolphins, porpoises, marlins and whales which are thrown back as so-called "by catch" dead or dying. The governments of the US and Chile are key members of the "Foes of the Fish" efforts to expand WTO control over our oceans. The WTO has already made clear its position on ocean conservation in the 1990s when it struck down "Dolphin" safe measures in the US and forced the US to weaken a US law requiring "turtle excluder devices" to allow sea turtles to escape shrimp nets.

Minutes later about 200 activists shut down the narrow streets bypassing the WTO convention centre with a festive action of singing and meditation for more than 3 hours.