SAN FRANCISCO - March 29 The San Francisco office of DDB Worldwide has helped launch a cutting edge national multi-media campaign to raise awareness about the looming extinction of the Pacific leatherback sea turtle for the San Francisco Bay Area-based environmental organization Sea Turtle Restoration Project and its international Save the Leatherback Campaign.
The fully integrated communications public awareness campaign includes billboards, three full-page ads in local, regional, national and international magazines, and the launch of a new website landing page, www.savetheleatherback.com. The national launch was unveiled this month on a San Francisco billboard to pilot this national campaign and will be featured in magazines later this year.
DDB is providing pro bono creative services with media placement from sister company, OMD, to convince seafood consumers to avoid eating swordfish, shark, and tuna. These fish are harvested by methods that also kill leatherback sea turtles and contain levels of mercury high enough to result in health warnings from the federal and state agencies.
"This is a perfect example of volunteerism at its finest," said Erica Heimberg, Managing Director of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. "DDB has used cutting edge internet and graphic design to educate consumers about the plight of leatherback sea turtles and the dangers of eating swordfish. Their innovative use of media has elevated the call to action by appealing to entirely new communities of people."
"When we learned of the leatherback crisis, we immediately jumped in to offer our expertise and to tap into our resource of creative individuals," said Lisa Bennett, Chief Creative Officer, of DDB Worldwide San Francisco. "We are excited to partner with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project to implement a national media strategy to educate the public about how it can make a positive difference for the sea turtles."
The national public awareness campaign was piloted in the San Francisco Bay Area in March and modeled for release in other areas of the country where swordfish consumption is high.
Background on the Campaign A key component of the campaign focuses on curtailing swordfish consumption, which will benefit both leatherback sea turtles and human health. Since leatherbacks are being killed by longliners and gillnetters fishing for swordfish, reduced demand will eventually limit the number of industrial fishing boats. People are also being asked to stop eating swordfish to protect their own health, since this fish has been found to have mercury contamination levels high enough to require health warning labels. To measure your intake of methylmercury go to www.gotmercury.org.
Recently, scientists have warned that the Pacific leatherback, a critically endangered species that migrates across the Pacific to feed and lays its eggs, will go extinct within the next 10-20 years if its adult mortality is not drastically reduced. The Pacific leatherback's nesting population has plummeted from 91,000 in 1980 to fewer than 5,000 in 2000 according to a recent study in the scientific journal Nature. The highest sources of adult mortality are due to industrialized fishing practices. Most of these fishers are targeting swordfish, tuna, and shark.
Longline fishing is an industrial technology that can set thousands of baited hooks in a single line that can stretch for 50 miles. Internationally, 1.4 billion hooks (or 5 million hooks/day) are set in the world's oceans each year. According to a recent study published in Nature, longlining is the major cause of the decline of giant fishes, such as swordfish, tuna and sharks. Previous studies have also indicated that this fishing method is driving Pacific leatherbacks turtles to extinction.
In February 2003, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project published a letter to United National General Secretary Kofi Annan signed by about 400 scientists from 25 nations, including the distinguished biologist E. O. Wilson, in the New York Times calling for a moratorium on longline fishing in the Pacific.
The Sea Turtle Restoration Project is an international marine environmental organization headquartered in Forest Knolls, California and with offices in Costa Rica and Texas. The organization focuses on protecting and restoring marine wildlife in ways that address the needs of local communities. The Sea Turtle Restoration Project (www.seaturtles.org) is a project of Turtle Island Restoration Network, which also sponsors the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (www.spawnusa.org) to protect endangered coho salmon.