Critically endangered sea turtles, now leaving the safe harbor of California's coastal waters to migrate across the Pacific to nesting beaches, could face a gauntlet of 5 million or more new longline hooks when returning to the West Coast in the future.

A new report released this week, "Death by a Thousand Hooks," details the huge escalation of sea turtles, seabirds, sharks and other marine life that could be caught and killed on longline hooks in ocean waters between California and Hawaii if a trio of deadly swordfish fisheries proposed by federal fishery managers is approved.

"We must halt the deadly sweep of longline fishing hooks across the ocean," said Teri Shore, Turtle Island Restoration Network Program Director. "Otherwise the swordfish we eat will be tainted with the blood of sea turtles."

To help stop a new swordfish fishery from opening within 200 miles of the California coast, the California Ocean Protection Council is forwarding a resolution supporting longstanding state policy to protect marine life from such a fishery at its meeting in San Pedro, California on Nov. 20 and 21, 2008.

Combined, the three new or expanded swordfish fisheries proposed for 2009 and later, would allow more than 5 million deadly longline hooks per year and could potentially multiply by 3-6 times the number of critically endangered Pacific leatherback and threatened Pacific loggerheads harmed or killed as bycatch.

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