Media: Action Alert

Contact Your U.S. Senators NOW and Ask That They Support Ratification of International Sea Turtle Treaty

Date: August 17, 2000
Contact: Gary Appelson
Phone: (352) 373-6441

How You Can Help

Help needed now to ratify the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles!

Help save endangered sea turtles! Please contact your U.S. Senators today and ask that they ratify the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles! The Senate is expected vote on the treaty in the middle of September-2000!

Though sea turtles have existed for nearly 100 million years, human activity only within the last few decades has jeopardized their survival. Today, all sea turtle species in U.S. waters are listed as endangered or threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The primary threats to sea turtle survival are from drowning caused by entanglement in fishing gear; habitat destruction caused by development in and around nesting beaches; poaching and predation of sea turtle hatchlings; and harvesting and trading of sea turtles and their eggs. Due to their migratory nature, sea turtles can only be adequately protected by international conservation policies and agreements which address each of these threats to sea turtle survival.

The INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION OF SEA TURTLES (IAC) is the first comprehensive regional agreement protecting sea turtles and their habitats. The United States played a leading role in negotiating the Convention, which was completed in 1996. The Convention was sent to the Senate for ratification in 1998. The IAC will not enter into force, however, until it is ratified by eight nations. As of June 2000 only four nations have ratified it. It is critical that the United States now join that growing list.

The Convention calls for member countries to adopt comprehensive measures requiring the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in shrimp fisheries; prohibit international trade in sea turtles and their products; promote the conservation of sea turtle habitats and nesting beaches; and engage in cooperative research efforts on sea turtle populations and the threats they face. The Convention receives wide-spread support, not only from international environmental organizations, but from the U.S. fishing industry as well.

THE TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW. Many national conservation groups have been working to ensure that the Convention is ratified by the Senate THIS session, but time is running out and we need your help! In July the Senate Foreign relations Committee, Chaired by Senator Jesse Helms, approved the IAC. The next step is a full Senate vote! To help see below.

For more information you can access the entire IAC document and background information .

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Please contact your Senators TODAY and let them know that protecting sea turtles is important to you and that you would like the Senate to ratify the INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION OF SEA TURTLES (IAC) by the END OF THIS SESSION! Encourage your Senators to ask the Senate leadership (Especially Senator Trent Lott, Majority Leader) to schedule a floor vote on the Inter-American Convention as soon as possible this session and then to vote yes for ratification! You may use the points below and these addresses for contacting your Senators

Write a personal letter to your Senator

The Honorable ______________ United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510

Be patched into your Senator's office by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121

************************

KEY POINTS TO USE IN YOUR LETTERS AND PHONE-CALLS TO YOUR SENATORS (Your personal concerns and perspective are always very effective.)

1. Sea turtles around the world are facing almost overwhelming threats to their survival. Due to their migratory nature, international agreements are necessary to protect them. The Inter-American Convention, pending in the Senate, is a critical step in achieving comprehensive, lasting protection for endangered sea turtles and their habitats in the Western Hemisphere.

2. Ratifying and implementing the Inter-American Convention in the United States will not require any new U.S. laws.

3. The Convention receives wide-spread support from the international environmental community, and from the U.S. fishing industry as well. The Convention levels the playing field for all participating nations by requiring fishermen in other countries to use Turtle Excluder Devices, which are already mandatory for U.S. fishermen.

4. The Convention cannot enter into force until it is ratified by eight nations. U.S. leadership in ratifying the Convention is critical. Please help to ensure that the Convention is ratified by the Senate this session.

Thanks to the National Wildlife Federation for information used in this Action Alert.