Fishing poses a serious threat to sea turtles which can be entangled in nets or caught on hooks as incidental bycatch, or even targeted intentionally for consumption. Recently, Park guards from Las Baulas National Park and the Costa Rican Coast Guard stopped two illegal fishing boats within the marine protected area of the Park, which extends 12 nautical miles offshore. According to their Facebook note, over 300 kilograms of product were seized, including a dead olive ridley turtle.
Executive Director George Shillinger commended the Costa Rican authorities for their work protecting the endangered species that frequent the marine park. He said, “Protecting sea turtles at sea remains a crucial challenge for the future of these species. Fishing poses one of the most serious threats to sea turtles during this time and The Leatherback Trust is grateful to have partners like Las Baulas National Park.”
Losses of sea turtles as a result of interactions with fisheries contribute significantly to population declines, as documented by researchers affiliated with The Leatherback Trust.
According to Dapp, Arauz, and Spotila, Costa Rican longliners captured 699,600 olive ridley turtles, including 92,300 adult females, from 1999 to 2010. Their research linked these captures to a decline of nesting populations at nearby arribada beaches. Another study estimated pelagic longliners set an estimated 760 million hooks annually in areas of the Pacific Ocean traversed by leatherbacks. In just one year, Lewison, Freeman, and Crowder documented that the global longline fleet captured some 50,000 leatherbacks and 200,000 loggerheads.
As noted on the Park's Facebook account, reports of illegal fishing should be made to the offices of the National Park at 2653-0470 or Coast Guard Environmental Unit Ministry of Public Security at 9-1-1