New Report Documents Damage to the Pacific Ocean from Investments in
Destructive Longline Fishing
Only weeks after the World Bank announced a new project to promote
sustainable fishing, a new report documents how controversial bank investments
in longline fishing in the Pacific are contributing to overfishing for tuna
and an extinction crisis for sea turtles and seabirds. As the World Bank prepares
for its annual meeting on September 24-25th, new questions arise as to the destructive
impact of investments by the World Bank and other multilateral development banks
on the ocean and fisheries resources.
The report, Bankrupting the Pacific: How Multilateral Development Banks are
Contributing to Overfishing and Helping Push Sea Turtles and Seabirds to the
Brink of Extinction in the Pacific, released by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project
today, shows how the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World
Bank Group, and Asian Development Bank poured millions of dollars into destructive
longline fishing in the Pacific. These investments were made in critical nesting
and migratory habitats of critically endangered sea turtles and seabirds without
any assessment of the impact on biodiversity of the regions where the projects
took place and in direct violation of their own environmental and fisheries
"Asian Development Bank and World Bank Group investments in longline fishing
have helped drive the 100 million year old leatherback sea turtle to the brink
of extinction in the Pacific," warns Robert Ovetz, PhD, Save the Leatherback
Campaign Coordinator with the US-based NGO the Sea Turtle Restoration Project
and lead author of the report.
The female nesting population of the 100 million year old Pacific leatherback
sea turtle has collapsed by 95 percent since 1980. The leatherback is listed
as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union and scientists warn
that it could extinct in the next 5-30 years unless immediate action to remove
threats to its survival such as longline fishing. The Pacific loggerhead sea
turtle and the black-footed albatross are also caught primarily by longlines
and considered on the precipice of extinction. Longline fishing is the main
threat to albatross seabirds, 19 of the 21 of the species of which are considered
threatened or endangered.
"The banks do not even follow their own weak environmental policies. Despite
the fact that longlines catch or kill about 4.4 million non-target sharks, seabirds,
sea turtles, billfish and marine mammals each year in the Pacific alone, in
each case, the banks found that no environmental impact report was even required."
These investments have also triggered overfishing of the very resource that
was supposed to contribute to long-term development. Recent reports in the scientific
journals Nature and Ecology have warned that tuna, billfish and shark populations
have declined by 87-99 percent in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific
since the 1950s.
According to Ovetz, "the multi-lateral banks are directly to blame for
contributing to the crash in bigeye and albacore tuna in the Pacific, a crucial
source of revenue for impoverished coastal and island nations."
The report calls for the banks to cancel ongoing longline fishing projects,
implement a moratorium on all future longline projects, and implement a set
of reforms of their own practices to prevent further damage to the ocean ecosystem.
• For a copy of the report Bankrupting the Pacific click
• For a review copy of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project's new
documentary film Last Journey for the Leatherback? contact Robert Ovetz, PhD.
For more information, contact:
Robert Ovetz, PhD
+1 415 488 0370 x 106