November 11, 2005 – San Jose, Costa Rica
In little over one month, more than 20,000 Costa Ricans have signed a petition to protect eastern Pacific leatherback sea turtles, the most endangered of all sea turtle populations in the world. PRETOMA is encouraging those who have not signed to do so, as the text of the petition is being debated currently at the United Nations. The petition is directed towards the Ambassador of Costa Rica at the United Nations, Lic. Bruno Stagno, requesting that Costa Rica lead the way at the United Nations General Assembly to include clauses in a resolution related to fisheries and marine conservation recommending steps to protect this species.
Scientists estimate that these turtles have declined 99% in the last 25 years. Playa Grande, in Guanacaste province of Costa Rica is now the most important nesting beach in the Americas for eastern Pacific leatherbacks due to the protection of nests there since 1989. However, in the entire eastern Pacific it is estimated that fewer than 1,000 adult females are left, and last nesting season only 52 nested at Playa Grande down from nearly 1,400 just 15 years ago, clearly showing that the greatest threat to these turtles is their accidental capture in fishing operations in international waters.
The petition has been supported by other NGOs such as APREFLOFAS and FECON as well as www.navegalo.com, which has gathered thousands of signatures and the Municipality of San Isidro de Heredia which is urging all Municipalities to support protection of leatherbacks.A packet with the petition and thousands of signatures has also been delivered to President Dr. Abel Pacheco de la Espriella.
“It appears that Costa Ricans are truly proud of the important role Costa Rica plays as the primary nesting country for this species in the Americas and do not want to see this 100,000,000 year old species disappear,” says Randall Arauz, President of PRETOMA.
Thousands of the petition signers have been grade school, high school and university students.Today PRETOMA received a collect call from a grade school student who wanted to sign the petition. When asked if she was above 18 she said, “No, I’m ten years old, but I support protection of the leatherback with all my heart.”
“It is promising to see younger generations getting involved, and we warmly welcome signatures of people under 18,” states Edgar Castrillo Marine Education Coordinator for PRETOMA. “We are facing the reality that we are very likely the last generation that has an opportunity to save this species and protect ocean resources in general. Policies and practices adopted now and during the next ten years will determine if endangered species like the leatherback recover or go extinct. Now is the time to take action.”
“We greatly hope that the Costa Rican government is hearing this call for protection of leatherback sea turtles and that the current government and future administrations make marine conservation a priority,” states Arauz.
PRETOMA continues to urge Costa Ricans to sign the petition prior to the vote at the United Nations on November 28. Those interested in signing can call +(506) 236-0884 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT: Randall Arauz, President PRETOMA
TEL: +(506) 241-5227
FAX: +(506) 236-6017
PRETOMA (Programa Restauraci