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More Than 1,000 Endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtles Died In Mexico In 2020

Two federal agencies say loggerhead sea turtles on West Coast are endangered.
Two federal agencies say loggerhead sea turtles on West Coast are endangered.

More than a thousand endangered sea turtles died in Mexico last year. Environmental groups say the country isn’t doing enough to protect them from entanglement in fishing gear.

In 2020, 1,088 North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles died in Baja California Sur, more than in the previous three years combined, according to official  government data shared with the Center For Biological Diversity through a freedom of information request.

Those deaths were likely caused by fishing nets that have been killing the turtles for decades, says Alejandro Olivera, a senior scientist and Mexico representative for the Center for Biological Diversity.

"We know that the main cause of death of the loggerhead sea turtles are fishing gears, interaction with the gillnets mainly," he said.

The Center For Biological Diversity and the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda)  filed a petition last yearasking a commission of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) to  review Mexico's compliance with environmental laws.

In a response filed this week,  Mexico deniedthat fishing gear is causing the deaths. Environmental groups will have a chance to comment before authorities from the three countries review the issue.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.