Turtle by-catch reduction in the long-line fisheries

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Longline fisheries impact on sea life is worrisome.
© Alvaro Segura

A vehicle toward sustainable fisheries

By-catch occurs when fishers, in pursuit of their primary catch, inadvertently hook or trap other sea life.
Its impact on sea turtles is worrisome, because all five species of marine turtles are in risk of extinction in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, where the status of the Leatherback, Loggerhead, and Hawksbill Sea Turtles is most critical.

However much of this impact is avoidable with a few relatively minor modifications to gear and fishing practices. This project relies on the use of "circle" hooks, which reduces the capture of sea turtles up to 90 per cent and do not affect the catch of commercial species. The method of participation includes the substitution of J hooks with circle hooks, testing experiments, the training of fishermen in best fishing practices and on-board data collection by observers regarding catches and by-catches during long-line fishing operations.

Experimental fishing trips are providing strong evidence in favor of circular hooks as a tool to effectively reduce the by-catch of marine turtle in surface long-line fishing operations. Trials are conducted under normal commercial fishing conditions, and thus providing real life evidence that the project is successful.

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