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Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2009 8 years ago

Turtle Watch

by: Virginia Sanders

As this “Lights Out” poster from a couple of years ago, above, so beautifully illustrates — we have a lighting problem.

Paula Clark, of Mote Marine Laboratory, is doing a fabulous job, as are the Longboat Key Turtle Watcher members and the Mote turtles teams, but we’re missing a critical officer from the state. Randy Fowler (the town’s former building official) used to fill that spot exceedingly well. Since he retired, the replacement was part-time and just not as effective as it needs to be.

The troubles this season reflect that and, with this in mind, we have every reason to hope that next season we’ll show better numbers because we’ll have the amount of oversight that we’ve not had this time around.

Another factor that could affect the balance of the season and the seasons to come would be the study, conducted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, to reduce the number of sea-turtles deaths from baited hooks on fishing long-lines. The council voted unanimously to restrict Gulf long-line fishing to deep water (at least 210 feet) and to reduce by half the number of long-line fishing boats and the number of hooks per boat. These restrictions are now up for federal review and may be extended for another 180 days before the review is completed.

When all is said and done, we must all work together and harmoniously; all of us being man, commercial fishermen and the marine life on which all of us depend and need to respect.

Virginia Sanders
is the spokesperson for the Longboat Key Turtle Conservation Program, serves on the Citizens Advisory Board of the National Estuary Program and is a Mote Marine volunteer.

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