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EWIRE

Methods Enable Hawaii-based Longline Swordfish Fishery to Minimize Sea Turtle Interactions

HONOLULU, Hawaii, Aug. 29 - /EWire/ -- Action is urgently needed to prevent the loss of leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles from the Pacific Ocean. Reducing bycatch of sea turtles in pelagic longline fisheries, in parallel with activities to reduce other anthropogenic mortality sources, may contribute to their recovery. A study, announced today by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, indicates that measures have been extremely effective at reducing interactions with endangered sea turtles in the Hawaii-based longline swordfish fishery. Regulations designed to reduce turtle interactions came into effect for the Hawaii-based longline swordfish fishery in May 2004. The regulations changed the type and size of fishing hook and bait used by the Hawaii-based longline swordfish fleet from using a J-shaped hook with squid bait to a wider circle-shaped hook with fish bait. There were significant reductions in sea turtle and shark capture rates and reduced proportion of turtles that ingest hooks, which may increase post release survival prospects, without comprising target species catches. Capture rates of leatherback and loggerhead turtles declined significantly by 82.8 percent and 90.0 percent, respectively, after the turtle regulations came into effect. The swordfish catch rate, the target species of this fishery, was significantly higher by 16.0 percent. The shark catch rate was 36 percent lower. Kitty Simonds, Executive Director of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, explained, "Sea turtles are among the most extraordinary creatures on the planet and are valued by people around the world. In spite of this, sea turtle populations are declining due to numerous threats. This new study confirms that the Hawaii-based longline swordfish fishery has achieved significant reductions in turtle interactions. This is a model fishery, and we are taking steps to transfer these effective and commercially viable turtle bycatch solutions to other fisheries. However, unless initiatives to address the more serious threats to sea turtle populations are effective, efforts to minimize interactions in longline fisheries will not be enough." The technical report, "Efficacy and commercial viability of regulations designed to reduce sea turtle interactions in the Hawaii-Based Longline Swordfish Fishery", has been produced by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council in Honolulu, United States, the National Marine Fisheries Service in Honolulu, the Regional Seas Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya, the Blue Ocean Institute in Honolulu, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in Apia, Samoa. Eric Gilman, Director of the Blue Ocean Institute's Fisheries Bycatch Program and the report's lead author said: "Results from this study highlight effective strategies that are commercially viable for reducing turtle interactions in longline fisheries, which can now be assessed for suitability in other fisheries." Paul Dalzell, Senior Scientist of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council and co-author of the report, said: "Sea turtle numbers have declined dramatically in recent years due to the combined effect of many threats, including mortality in fishing gear. Whether some populations survive the next few decades is an open question. We are doing our part to address this crisis." Notes to Editors: The report "Efficacy and commercial viability of regulations designed to reduce sea turtle interactions in the Hawaii-Based Longline Swordfish Fishery" is available online at www.wpcouncil.org It can be ordered from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, 1164 Bishop Street, Suite 1400, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 USA Email: egilman@blueocean.org Contact Info: Paul Dalzell Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Telephone: +1 808.522.8220 E-mail: paul.dalzell@noaa.gov Website : Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council

For more information:

Paul Dalzell Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Telephone: +1 808.522.8220 E-mail: paul.dalzell@noaa.gov

www.wpcouncil.org

Comments

Jared

Happy Birthday, Carl! How fnttiig that it would be on World Turtle Day. Thank you so much for your beautiful and inspiring words about the sea turtles and the oceans. On June 3 we will release 23 (Cc, Cm, and Lk). One of them will be in your honor!

February 13, 2012, 6:40 PM
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