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Illegal nets drown more than 300 sea turtles at Oaxaca

Santa María Colotepec, Oaxaca — The Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) says illegal fishing nets are responsible for the deaths of more than 300 sea turtles in waters off the coast of Oaxaca.

The report came after hundreds of sea turtles were seen floating on the sea surface in front of the Barra de Colotepec in the municipality of Santa María Colotepec. Environmental officers say that the turtles became entangled in nets that stretched 120 meters long.

Profepa staff and the Navy of Mexico (SEMAR) along with the Mexican Turtle Center, the Universidad del Mar, fishermen and personnel of the Municipality of Santa María Colotepec are working together investigating the deaths.

Photo: La Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente

The sea turtles were all olive ridley species, who, according to officers, died by drowning and were dead for eight days before being discovered. They explained that the presence of the riparian fishing nets is likely due to irresponsible practice and the death of the turtles forced fishermen to abandon it.

Profepa are reinforcing efforts toward fishermen to avoid bad practices, including the use of prohibited fishing gear adding that the Navy of Mexico along with inspectors of Conapesca and the respective committees will maintain permanent vigilance of both fishermen and inhabitants of the area.

A criminal complaint has also been filed with the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) against whomever is responsible for the entanglement of sea turtles.

In July, authorities in the municipality of Tonalá, Chiapas counted 105 dead sea turtles along Chiapas beaches after they began washing up on shore. There has not been any official determination as to the cause of their deaths.

In August, more than 30,000 sea turtle eggs were confiscated by environmental officials in Oaxaca after federal police discovered a group of men selling them.